Quantification of silver nanoparticles taken up by single cells using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry in the single cell measurement mode†
The impact of nanoparticles, NPs, at the single cell level has become a major field of toxicological research and different analytical methodologies are being investigated to obtain biological and toxicological information to better understand the mechanisms of cell–NP interactions. Here, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry in the single cell measurement mode (SC-ICP-MS) is proposed to study the uptake of silver NPs, AgNPs, with a diameter of 50 nm by human THP-1 monocytes in a proof-of-principle experiment. The main operating parameters of SC-ICP-MS have been optimized and applied for subsequent quantitative analysis of AgNPs to determine the number of particles in individual cells using AgNP suspensions for calibration. THP-1 cells were incubated with AgNP suspensions with concentrations of 0.1 and 1 μg mL−1 for 4 and 24 hours. The results reveal that the AgNP uptake by THP-1 monocytes is minimal at the lower dose of 0.1 μg mL−1 (roughly 1 AgNP per cell was determined), whereas a large cell-to-cell variance dependent on the exposure time is observed for a 10 times higher concentration (roughly 7 AgNPs per cell). The method was further applied to monitor the AgNP uptake by THP-1 cells differentiated macrophages incubated at the same AgNP concentration levels and exposure times demonstrating a much higher AgNP uptake (roughly from 9 to 45 AgNPs per cell) that was dependent on exposure concentration and remained constant over time. The results have been compared and validated by sample digestion followed by ICP-MS analysis as well as with other alternative promising techniques providing single cell analysis.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Atomic spectrometry for the analysis of biological samples