Identification of the appropriate dose metric for pulmonary inflammation of silver nanoparticles in an inhalation toxicity study

Hedwig M. Braakhuis*, Flemming R. Cassee, Paul H. B. Fokkens, Liset J. J. de la Fonteyne, Agnes G. Oomen, Petra Krystek, Wim H. de Jong, Henk van Loveren, Margriet V. D. Z. Park

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

48 Citations (Web of Science)


A number of studies have shown that induction of pulmonary toxicity by nanoparticles of the same chemical composition depends on particle size, which is likely in part due to differences in lung deposition. Particle size mostly determines whether nanoparticles reach the alveoli, and where they might induce toxicity. For the risk assessment of nanomaterials, there is need for a suitable dose metric that accounts for differences in effects between different sized nanoparticles of the same chemical composition. The aim of the present study is to determine the most suitable dose metric to describe the effects of silver nanoparticles after short-term inhalation. Rats were exposed to different concentrations (ranging from 41 to 1105 mu g silver/m(3) air) of 18, 34, 60 and 160nm silver particles for four consecutive days and sacrificed at 24h and 7 days after exposure. We observed a concentration-dependent increase in pulmonary toxicity parameters like cell counts and pro-inflammatory cytokines in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. All results were analysed using the measured exposure concentrations in air, the measured internal dose in the lung and the estimated alveolar dose. In addition, we analysed the results based on mass, particle number and particle surface area. Our study indicates that using the particle surface area as a dose metric in the alveoli, the dose-response effects of the different silver particle sizes overlap for most pulmonary toxicity parameters. We conclude that the alveolar dose expressed as particle surface area is the most suitable dose metric to describe the toxicity of silver nanoparticles after inhalation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-73
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2016


  • Dose metrics
  • inhalation exposure
  • nanotoxicology
  • risk assessment

Cite this