Silver nanoparticles induce apoptotic cell death in Candida albicans through the increase of hydroxyl radicals


D. G. Lee, School of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, College of Natural Sciences, Kyungpook National University, Daehak-ro 80, Buk-gu, Daegu 702-701, Korea
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Silver nanoparticles have been shown to be detrimental to fungal cells although the mechanism(s) of action have not been clearly established. In this study, we used Candida albicans cells to show that silver nanoparticles exert their antifungal effect through apoptosis. Many studies have shown that the accumulation of reactive oxygen species induces and regulates the induction of apoptosis. Furthermore, hydroxyl radicals are considered an important component of cell death. Therefore, we assumed that hydroxyl radicals were related to apoptosis and the effect of thiourea as a hydroxyl radical scavenger was investigated. We measured the production of reactive oxygen species and investigated whether silver nanoparticles induced the accumulation of hydroxyl radicals. A reduction in the mitochondrial membrane potential shown by flow cytometry analysis and the release of cytochrome c from mitochondria were also verified. In addition, the apoptotic effects of silver nanoparticles were detected by fluorescence microscopy using other confirmed diagnostic markers of yeast apoptosis including phosphatidylserine externalization, DNA and nuclear fragmentation, and the activation of metacaspases. Cells exposed to silver nanoparticles showed increased reactive oxygen species and hydroxyl radical production. All other phenomena of mitochondrial dysfunction and apoptotic features also appeared. The results indicate that silver nanoparticles possess antifungal effects with apoptotic features and we suggest that the hydroxyl radicals generated by silver nanoparticles have a significant role in mitochondrial dysfunctional apoptosis.