Dynamic protein coronas revealed as a modulator of silver nanoparticle sulphidation in vitro

Teodora Miclaus, Christiane Beer, Jacques Chevallier, Carsten Scavenius, Vladimir E Bochenkov, Jan J Enghild, Duncan S Sutherland

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Proteins adsorbing at nanoparticles have been proposed as critical toxicity mediators and are included in ongoing efforts to develop predictive tools for safety assessment. Strongly attached proteins can be isolated, identified and correlated to changes in nanoparticle state, cellular association or toxicity. Weakly attached, rapidly exchanging proteins are also present at nanoparticles, but are difficult to isolate and have hardly been examined. Here we study rapidly exchanging proteins and show for the first time that they have a strong modulatory effect on the biotransformation of silver nanoparticles. Released silver ions, known for their role in particle toxicity, are found to be trapped as silver sulphide nanocrystals within the protein corona at silver nanoparticles in serum-containing cell culture media. The strongly attached corona acts as a site for sulphidation, while the weakly attached proteins reduce nanocrystal formation in a serum-concentration-dependent manner. Sulphidation results in decreased toxicity of Ag NPs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11770
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Journal Article


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