Co-exposure to silver nanoparticles and cadmium induce metabolic adaptation in HepG2 cells

Renata Rank Miranda, Vladimir Gorshkov, Barbara Korzeniowska, Stefan J Kempf, Francisco Filipak Neto, Frank Kjeldsen

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Although multiple studies have reported the toxicological effects and underlying mechanisms of toxicity of silver nanoparticles (AgNP) in a variety of organisms, the interactions of AgNP with environmental contaminants such as cadmium are poorly understood. We used biochemical assays and mass spectrometry-based proteomics to assess the cellular and molecular effects induced by a co-exposure of HepG2 cells to AgNP and cadmium. Cell viability and energy homeostasis were slightly affected after a 4-h exposure to AgNP, cadmium, or a combination of the two; these endpoints were substantially altered after a 24-h co-exposure to AgNP and cadmium, while exposure to one of the two contaminants led only to minor changes. Proteomics analysis followed the same trend: while a 4-h exposure induced minor protein deregulation, a 24-h exposure to a combination of AgNP and cadmium deregulated 43% of the proteome. The toxicity induced by a combined exposure to AgNP and cadmium involved (1) inactivation of Nrf2, resulting in downregulation of antioxidant defense and proteasome-related proteins, (2) metabolic adaptation and ADP/ATP imbalance, and (3) increased protein synthesis possibly to reestablish homeostasis. The adaptation strategy was not sufficient to restore ADP/ATP homeostasis and to avoid cell death.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)781-795
Publication statusPublished - 11. Jul 2018


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