Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are widely known to have anti-inflammatory properties, but the exact mechanism underlying this anti-inflammatory effect is not clearly understood. Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) is a major pro-inflammatory cytokine that is expressed in the early stage of cell inflammation and induces apoptosis by several known pathways. Our study aimed to investigate the effect of AgNPs on the response of lung epithelial cells to TNFα and the molecular mechanism of this response. Lung epithelial cell line NCI-H292 cells were exposed to AgNPs (5 µg/mL) and/or TNFα (20 ng/mL) for 24 h, then cellular uptake was analyzed using flow cytometry. Our results showed that AgNPs were taken up by cells in a dose-dependent manner and that the cellular uptake ratio of AgNPs was significantly increased in the presence of TNFα. Apoptosis assays indicated that exposure to AgNPs significantly decreased the apoptotic effect of TNFα. Confocal microscopy was used to localize the tumor necrosis factor receptor 1 (TNFR1) and revealed that TNFR1 localized on the surface of cells exposed to TNFα. In contrast, TNFR1 localized inside cells exposed to both AgNPs and TNFα, with very few receptors scattered on the cell membrane. The results indicated that AgNPs reduced the cell surface TNFR1 expression level. The results suggested that the reduction of surface TNFR1 reduced cellular response to TNFα, resulting in an anti-apoptotic effect.
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