Silver Nanoparticles Induce Degradation of the Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress Sensor Activating Transcription Factor-6 Leading to Activation of the NLRP-3 Inflammasome

In this clinical study, published in February 2015 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the study authors set out to discover whether or not silver nanoparticles could cause harm to human cells. But what the actually discovered surprised them: Silver nanoparticles are toxic to leukemia cells.

In their experiments, the researchers used tiny, 15 nm sized silver nanoparticles on human human monocyte and macrophage cells. They found that at low concentrations, the silver nanoparticles induced stress in the endoplasmic reticulum of the cells, but didn’t cause cell death. But at higher concentrations, the silver nanoparticles caused apoptosis, which is to say, it caused the cells to self-destruct. Some researchers have cited this study as “proof” that silver nanoparticles are harmful to normal human cells. However, that’s a disingenuous conclusion, when you consider the fact that a.) previous clinical studies have demonstrated silver nanoparticles cause cancer cells to self-destruct while leaving normal human cells largely unscathed, and b.) the researchers behind this study admit they used human leukemia cells throughout most of the study.

According to the lead study author, Professor Denis Girard, in a news release published on, “We used leukemia cells throughout most of the study. The question is, could we achieve the same results with other types of cancer cells? If so, it may be possible to use nanoparticles to kill cancer cells without the use of drugs, which would be very promising.” So what the researchers actually discovered, perhaps inadvertently, is that silver nanoparticles cause human leukemic cancer cells to self-destruct.

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