Enhanced toxicity of silver nanoparticles in transgenic Caenorhabditis elegans expressing amyloidogenic proteins

Cristina Soria, Teresa Coccini, Uliana De Simone, Loredana Marchese, Irene Zorzoli, Sofia Giorgetti, Sara Raimondi, P. Patrizia Mangione, Stefano Ramat, Vittorio Bellotti, Luigi Manzo, Monica Stoppini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The increasing number of applications of silver nanoparticles (AgNP) prompted us to assess their toxicity in vivo. We have investigated their effects on wild type and transgenic Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) strains expressing two prototypic amyloidogenic proteins: β2-microglobulin and Aβ peptide3-42. The use of C. elegans allowed us to highlight AgNP toxicity in the early phase of the worms life cycle (LC50 survival, 0.9 μg/ml). A comparative analysis of LC50 values revealed that our nematode strains were more sensitive to assess AgNP toxicity than the cell lines, classically used in toxicity tests. Movement and superoxide production in the adult population were significantly affected by exposure to AgNP; the transgenic strains were more affected than the wild type worms. Our screening approach could be applied to other types of nanomaterials that can enter the body and express any nanostructure-related bioactivities. We propose that C. elegans reproducing the molecular events associated with protein misfolding diseases, e.g. Alzheimers disease and systemic amyloidosis, may help to investigate the specific toxicity of a range of potentially harmful molecules. Our study suggests that transgenic C. elegans may be used to predict the effect of chemicals in a "fragile population", where an underlying pathologic state may amplify their toxicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-228
Number of pages8
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2 2015


  • Amyloidosis
  • C. elegans
  • nanoparticles
  • nanotoxicology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine

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