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Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are the one of the most extensively used nanomaterials. The strong antimicrobial properties of AgNPs have led to their use in a wide range of medical and consumer products. Although the neurotoxicity of AgNPs has been confirmed, the molecular mechanisms have not been extensively studied, particularly in immature organisms. Based on information gained from previous in vitro studies, in the present work, we examine whether ionotropic NMDA glutamate receptors contribute to AgNP-induced neurotoxicity in an animal model of exposure. In brains of immature rats subjected to a low dose of AgNPs, we identified ultrastructural and molecular alterations in the postsynaptic region of synapses where NMDA receptors are localized as a multiprotein complex. We revealed decreased expression of several NMDA receptor complex-related proteins, such as GluN1 and GluN2B subunits, scaffolding proteins PSD95 and SynGAP, as well as neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS). Elucidating the changes in NMDA receptor-mediated molecular mechanisms induced by AgNPs, we also identified downregulation of the GluN2B-PSD95-nNOS-cGMP signaling pathway which maintains LTP/LTD processes underlying learning and memory formation during development. This observation is accompanied by decreased density of NMDA receptors, as assessed by a radioligand binding assay. The observed effects are reversible over the post-exposure time. This investigation reveals that NMDA receptors in immature rats are a target of AgNPs, thereby indicating the potential health hazard for children and infants resulting from the extensive use of products containing AgNPs.


Beata Dąbrowska-Bouta, Grzegorz Sulkowski, Mikołaj Sałek, Małgorzata Frontczak-Baniewicz, Lidia Strużyńska. Early and Delayed Impact of Nanosilver on the Glutamatergic NMDA Receptor Complex in Immature Rat Brain. International journal of molecular sciences. 2021 Mar 17;22(6)

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PMID: 33802775

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