Exposure to a nanosilver-enabled consumer product results in similar accumulation and toxicity of silver nanoparticles in the marine mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis.


Laboratorio de Ictiología, Instituto Nacional de Limnología (INALI-CONICET-UNL), Paraje El Pozo, Ciudad Universitaria UNL, Santa Fe, Argentina. Electronic address: [Email]


The incorporation of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) in commercial products is increasing rapidly. The consequent release of AgNPs into domestic and industrial wastewater raises environmental concerns due to their anti-microbial properties and toxicity to non-target aquatic organisms. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of nanArgen™ (Nanotek S.A.), a AgNP-enabled consumer product, in the marine bivalve Mytilus galloprovincialis. Two environmentally relevant concentrations of nanArgen™ (1 and 10 μg/L) were tested in vivo for 96 h, and Ag was quantified in mussel soft tissue and natural seawater (NSW). nanArgen™ suspensions were characterized via TEM, SEM, EDS, DLS, and UV-vis optical analysis. Several molecular and biochemical responses were investigated in exposed mussels: lysosomal membrane stability by Neutral Red Retention Time (NRRT) assay; micronucleus (MN) frequency in hemocytes; metallothionein (MT) protein content and gene expression (mt10 and mt20); catalase (CAT) and glutathione-S-transferase (GST) activities; malondialdehyde (MDA) accumulation in digestive glands; and efflux activity of ATP-binding cassette transport proteins (ABC) in gill biopsies. SEM, TEM and DLS analyses confirmed the presence of well-defined AgNPs in nanArgen™ which were roughly spherical with an average particle size of approx. 30 ± 10 nm. DLS analysis revealed the formation of AgNP aggregates in nanArgen™ suspension in NSW (Z-average of 547.80 ± 90.23 nm; PDI of 0.044). A significant concentration-dependent accumulation of Ag was found in mussels' whole soft tissue in agreement with a concentration-dependent decrease in NRRT and an increase of MN frequency in hemocytes and GST activities in digestive glands. A significant increase in MDA levels and MT via both molecular and biochemical tests, were also observed but only at the highest nanArgen™ concentration (10 μg/L). No changes were observed in CAT activities. ABC efflux activities in gill biopsies showed a significant decrease (p <  0.05) only at the lowest concentration (1 μg/L). On such basis, nanArgen™ is shown to be able to induce toxicity and Ag accumulation in marine mussels similarly to AgNPs and in short-term exposure conditions at environmentally relevant concentrations. AgNP-enabled products, instead of pristine AgNPs, should be the focus of future ecotoxicity studies in order to address any risks associated to their widespread use, disposal and uncontrolled release into the aquatic environment for non target species.


AgNPs,Digestive glands,Hemocytes,Multi-Marker approach,Mytilus galloprovincialis,Nano-Enabled products,

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