Rikilt B&T Novel Foods en Agroketens, Rikilt B&T Toxicologie en Effectanalyse, Rikilt R&C Contaminanten
Applications of nanoparticles in the food sector are eminent. Silver nanoparticles are among the most frequently used, making consumer exposure to silver nanoparticles inevitable. Information about uptake through the intestines and possible toxic effects of silver nanoparticles is therefore very important but still lacking. In the present study, we used an in vitro model for the human intestinal epithelium consisting of Caco-2 and M-cells to study the passage of silver nanoparticles and their ionic equivalents and to assess their effects on whole-genome mRNA expression. This in vitro intestine model was exposed to four sizes of silver nanoparticles for 4 h. Exposure to silver ions was included as a control since 6-17% of the silver nanoparticles were found to be dissociated into silver ions. The amount of silver ions that passed the Caco-2 cell barrier was equal for the silver ion and nanoparticle exposures. The nanoparticles induced clear changes in gene expression in a range of stress responses including oxidative stress, endoplasmatic stress response, and apoptosis. The gene expression response to silver nanoparticles, however, was very similar to that of AgNO(3). Therefore, the observed effects of the silver nanoparticles are likely exerted by the silver ions that are released from the nanoparticles.