Effects of silica nanoparticles on endolysosome function in primary cultured neurons

Yan Ye, Liang Hui, Koffi L. Lakpa, Yuqian Xing, Hannah Wollenzien, Xuesong Chen, Julia Xiaojun Zhao, Jonathan D. Geiger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Silica nanoparticles (SiNPs) have been used as vehicles for drug delivery, molecular detection, and cellular manipulations in nanoneuromedicine. SiNPs may cause adverse effects in the brain including neurotoxicity, neuroinflammation, neurodegeneration, and enhancing levels of amyloid beta (Aβ) protein—all pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, the extent to which SiNPs influence Aβ generation and the underlying mechanisms by which this occurs deserve investigation. Our studies were focused on the effects of SiNPs on endolysosomes which uptake, traffic, and mediate the actions of SiNPs. These organelles are also where amyloidogenesis largely originates. We found that SiNPs, in primary cultured hippocampal neurons, accumulated in endolysosomes and caused a rapid and persistent deacidification of endolysosomes. SiNPs significantly reduced endolysosome calcium stores as indicated by a significant reduction in the ability of the lysosomotropic agent glycyl-L-phenylalanine 2-naphthylamide (GPN) to release calcium from endolysosomes. SiNPs increased Aβ1–40 secretion, whereas 2 agents that acidified endolysosomes, ML-SA1 and CGS21680, blocked SiNP-induced deacidification and increased generation of Aβ1–40. Our findings suggest that SiNP-induced deacidification of and calcium release from endolysosomes might be mechanistically linked to increased amyloidogenesis. The use of SiNPs might not be the best nanomaterial for therapeutic strategies against Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders linked to endolysosome dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-305
Number of pages9
JournalCanadian journal of physiology and pharmacology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2019


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Amyloid beta protein
  • Endolysosomes
  • ML-SA1
  • Nanoparticles
  • SiNP
  • Silica nanoparticles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Physiology (medical)


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