Particle Size, Surface Charge and Concentration Dependent Ecotoxicity of Three Organo-Coated Silver Nanoparticles: Comparison Between General Linear Model-Predicted and Observed Toxicity

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Mechanism underlying nanotoxicity has remained elusive. Hence, efforts to understand whether nanoparticle properties might explain its toxicity are ongoing. Considering three different types of organo-coated silver nanoparticles (AgNPs): citrate-coated AgNP, polyvinylpyrrolidone-coated AgNP, and branched polyethyleneimine-coated AgNP, with different surface charge scenarios and core particle sizes, herein we systematically evaluate the potential role of particle size and surface charge on the toxicity of the three types of AgNPs against two model organisms, Escherichia coli and Daphnia magna. We find particle size, surface charge, and concentration dependent toxicity of all the three types of AgNPs against both the test organisms. Notably, Ag+ (as added AgNO3) toxicity is greater than each type of AgNPs tested and the toxicity follows the trend: AgNO3>BPEI-AgNP>Citrate-AgNP>PVP-AgNP. Modeling particle properties using the general linear model (GLM), a significant interaction effect of primary particle size and surface charge emerges that can explain empirically-derived acute toxicity with great precision. The model explains 99.9% variation of toxicity in E. coli and 99.8% variation of toxicity in D. magna, revealing satisfactory predictability of the regression models developed to predict the toxicity of the three organo-coated AgNPs. We anticipate that the use of GLM to satisfactorily predict the toxicity based on nanoparticle physico-chemical characteristics could contribute to our understanding of nanotoxicology and underscores the need to consider potential interactions among nanoparticle properties to explaining nanotoxicity.