Silver nanoparticles (SNPs) translocate to the brain through the blood stream after they are implanted in vivo. The aim of this study was to investigate the distribution of SNPs that crossed through the blood-brain barrier (BBB). An in vitro BBB model established by co-cultures of rat brain microvessel vascular endothelial cells (BMVECs) with astrocytes (ACs) was cultured with cell culture medium containing 100 g/mL of either SNPs or silver microparticles (SMPs). After 4 hours of culture, the ultrastructure and its silver content of BBB was evaluated with transmission electronic microscopy (TEM) and inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) respectively. Results demonstrated that SNPs crossed the BBB and accumulated inside BMVECs, while the SMPs did not. The data indicated a special distribution of SNPs in the BBB and suggested that SNPs pass the BBB mainly by transcytosis of capillary endothelial cells. Further study would be necessary to evaluate the actual biological effects of SNPs on the brain.
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