Silver nanoparticles (Ag NPs) are known to exhibit broad antimicrobial activity. However, such activity continues to raise concerns in the context of the interaction of such NPs with biomolecules. In a physiological environment NPs interact with individual biological cells either by penetrating through the cell membrane or by adhering to the membrane. We have explored the interaction of Ag NPs with single optically-trapped, live erythrocytes (red blood cells, RBCs) using Raman Tweezers spectroscopy. Our experiments reveal that Ag NPs induce modifications within an RBC that appear to be irreversible. In particular we are able to identify that the heme conformation in an RBC transforms from the usual R-state (oxy-state) to the T-state (deoxy-state). We rationalize our observations by proposing a model for the nanoparticle cytotoxicity pathway when the NP size is larger than the membrane pore size. We propose that the interaction of Ag NPs with the cell surface induces damage brought about by alteration of intracellular pH caused by the blockage of the cell membrane transport.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)