Differential neurotoxic effects of silver nanoparticles: A review with special emphasis on potential biomarkers

Document Type: Review Paper


1 Department of Medical Nanotechnology, School of Advanced Technologies in Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Toxicology and Pharmacology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Sciences Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran



Silver Nanoparticles (AgNPs) have gained considerable interests during the last decade due to their excellent antimicrobial activities. Despite their extensive use, the potential toxicity of these nanoparticles and possible mechanisms by which they may induce adverse reactions have not received sufficient attention and no specific biomarker exist to describe and quantify their toxic effects. Nanoparticles, depending on their physicochemical characteristics and compositions, can interact with vital organs such as the brain and induce toxic effects. A specific concern is that any contact with AgNPs independent of the route of administration is thought to result in significant systemic uptake, internal exposure of sensitive organs, especially in the central nervous system (CNS) and different toxic responses. There are considerable evidences that AgNPs can disrupt the Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB) and induce subsequent brain edema formation. Therefore, it is essential to understand the differential effects of AgNPs on brain cell with especial emphasis on the possible mechanisms of action. Recently, biomarkers are increasingly used as surrogate indicators of toxic responses in biological monitoring due to the inaccessibility of target organs. Moreover, as the most nanoscale contaminants occur at low concentrations, physiological biomarkers may be better indicators of potential impact of nanomaterials than traditional toxicity testing. This review aims to investigate the effects of AgNPs on CNS targets of toxicity and clarify the role of existing biomarkers especially the role of dopamine levels as a potential biomarker of Ag-NPs neurotoxicity.


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