Volume 22 | April 2019

Cover Story

Nanoparticles, ultrafine particles of 1 to 100 nm in size, show unique optical, electrical, or thermal properties compared to bulk materials. The recent decade has seen an exponential growth in the fabrication of nanoparticles, commonly termed as engineered nanoparticles (ENPs), due to their extensive use in engineering technologies and consumer products. Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are among the most widely used ENPs. However, concerns have been raised about their safety and potential influence on human health. For instance, AgNPs can release silver ions or produce reactive oxygen species (ROS), which may disrupt cell membrane structure, protein aggregation, mitochondrial function, and metabolic homeostasis. However, the potential contribution of AgNPs specifically to obesity as well as the underlying mechanism have not yet been addressed.

Yue, Zhao, Wang, et al. assess the impact of AgNP exposure on obesity by studying the in vitro effects of AgNPs on beige adipocyte differentiation and function, as well as their in vivo influence on beige fat and metabolic parameters of mice on a high fat diet. Their results show that AgNPs suppress beige adipocyte development and function via increased ROS-ERK signaling, resulting in increased adiposity in mice. This suggests that environmental exposure with AgNPs may contribute to the obesity epidemic, and scrutiny is warranted in the safe application of silver nanoparticles.

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