Cellular Internalization of Silver Nanoparticles in Gut Epithelia of the Estuarine Polychaete Nereis diversicolor

J García-Alonso, FR Khan, SK Misra, M Turmaine, BD Smith, PS Rainbow, SN Luoma, Eugenia Valsami-Jones

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106 Citations (Scopus)


Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are widely used which may result in environmental impacts, notably within aquatic ecosystems. As estuarine sediments are sinks for numerous pollutants, but also habitat and food for deposit feeders such as Nereis diversicolor, ingested sediments must be investigated as an important route of uptake for NPs. N. diversicolor were fed sediment spiked with either citrate capped AgNPs (30 ± 5 nm) or aqueous Ag for 10 days. Postexposure AgNPs were observed in the lumen of exposed animals, and three lines of evidence indicated direct internalization of AgNPs into the gut epithelium. With TEM, electron-dense particles resembling AgNPs were observed associated with the apical plasma membrane, in endocytotic pits and in endosomes. Energy dispersive X-ray analysis (EDX) confirmed the presence of Ag in these particles, which were absent in controls. Subcellular fractionation revealed that Ag accumulated from AgNPs was predominantly associated with inorganic granules, organelles, and the heat denatured proteins; whereas dissolved Ag was localized to the metallothionein fraction. Collectively, these results indicate separate routes of cellular internalization and differing in vivo fates of Ag delivered in dissolved and NP form. For AgNPs an endocytotic pathway appears to be a key route of cellular uptake.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4630-4636
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2011


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