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Objective: About 30% of all nanoparticle products contain silver nanoparticles (AgNPs). With the increasing use of AgNPs in industry and medicine, concerns about the adverse effects on the environment, and the possible toxicity of these particles to primary cells and towards organs such as the brain and nervous system increased. In this paper, the toxicity of AgNPs in neurons and brain of animal models was investigated by a systematic review and meta-analysis. Methods: The full texts of 26 relevant studies were reviewed and analyzed. Data from nine separate experiments in five articles were analyzed by calculating the standardized mean differences between viability of treated animals and untreated groups. Subgroup analysis was conducted. In addition, a systematic review provided a complete, exhaustive summary of all articles. Results: The results of the meta-analysis showed that AgNPs are able to cause neuronal death after entering the brain (standardized mean difference (SMD) = 2.87; 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.1–3.61; p < 0.001). AgNPs sized smaller or larger than 10 nm could both cause neuronal cell death. This effect could be observed for a long time (up to 6 months). Neurons from embryonic animals whose mothers had been exposed to AgNPs during pregnancy were affected as much as animals that were themselves exposed to AgNPs. Toxic effects of AgNPs on memory and cognitive function were also observed. Studies have shown that inflammation and increased oxidative stress followed by apoptosis are likely to be the main mechanisms of AgNPs toxicity. Conclusion: AgNPs can enter the brain with a long half-life and it can cause neuronal death after entering the brain. AgNPs can manifest proinflammatory cascades in the CNS and BBB. Some toxic effects were detected in the cerebral cortex, hypothalamus, hippocampus and others. Studies have shown that inflammation and increased oxidative stress lead to apoptosis, the main mechanism of AgNPs neurotoxicity, which can be caused by an increase in silver ions from AgNPs.

Original publication




Journal article


Forensic Toxicology

Publication Date





49 - 63