Date of Award


Degree Name

Biological Sciences


College of Science

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Nadja Spitzer

Second Advisor

Guo-Zhang Zhu

Third Advisor

Lawrence Grover


Silver nanoparticles (AgNP) are an emerging environmental contaminant with unique chemical and physical properties. They are utilized in products like medical dressings and children’s toys for their antimicrobial action. Though AgNP’s bioaccumulative nature and high-level toxicity are established, low-level effects from chronic exposure to AgNP-containing products and environmental AgNP remain unclear. This study uses adult neural stem cells, a model for neural cell function and neurodevelopment, to assess changes in cell differentiation and behavior following low-level AgNP exposure. In vitro, low-level AgNP produced dose- and timedependent formation of co-localized f-actin inclusions and β-catenin puncta. Neurite extension and arborization were also reduced, indicating that AgNP disrupt cytoskeleton dynamics and β- catenin signaling. In vivo, AgNP treatment caused accumulation and persistence of Ag in brains at levels comparable to in vitro studies without overt toxicity. Together, this indicates that lowlevel AgNP exposure from consumer products may impair normal brain function and neurodevelopment.


Cells -- Morphology.

Cells -- Environmental aspects.