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Silver Nanoparticles Stop Sperm Stem Cell Growth

Related Articles and More Information: Visit OCA's Nanotechnology Information page.

A new study has identified exactly how silver nanoparticles cause male reproductive cells to stop growing.

Minute materials used in a number of consumer products such as antimicrobial agents can interrupt important cell signaling within male reproductive sperm cells, causing them to stop growing, according to a new study that builds on previous work by the same research group.

In prior studies, the scientists reported how smaller-sized silver nanoparticles - in the 10 - 25 nanometer range - decreased the growth of male stem cells when they were exposed at concentrations greater than 10 micrograms per milliliter (ug/ml).

The new study is the first to identify how the silver nanoparticles stop the sperm stem cells from growing. The biggest effects were caused by the smallest-sized nanoparticles tested.

This study raises important questions about potential effects on male fertility, because silver nanoparticles are currently used in a wide range of products.

In addition, exposure during development may affect forming sperm cells and lead to birth defects related to the male reproductive system. Scientists believe this is because the small silver particles can cross the mom's placenta and directly effect the baby.

Silver has long been recognized as a powerful antimicrobial. As such, the use of silver nanoparticles - ultra-small particles with diameters less than 100 nanometers - as antimicrobial coatings for clothing and bandages has boomed. Air sanitizers and personal care products also contain the nanoparticles.