Cytotoxicity and genotoxicity of silver nanoparticles in the human lung cancer cell line, A549
In this clinical study published in the Archives of Toxicology in July 2011, researchers discovered that when a human lung cancer cell line A549 was exposed to silver nanoparticles, reactive oxygen species (ROS) was produced resulting in mitochondrial damage to the cancer cells and “early apoptosis” (i.e., cellular self-destruction).
The researchers found that if the cancer cells were pre-treated with N-acetyl-cysteine (a modified form of the amino acid cysteine, known for its powerful antioxidant properties) there was less damage to the DNA of the cancer cells. This indicates that a primary mode of effectiveness of silver nanoparticles against cancer cells is its ability to create reactive oxygen species in the presence of these cells, which in turn damages their DNA resulting in early cell death.
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