Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) have been used in many fields due to their anticancer, antimicrobial, and antiviral potential. Single-cell ICP-MS (SC-ICP-MS) is an emerging technology that allows for the rapid characterization and quantification of a metal analyte across a cell population in a single analysis. In this study, a new rapid and sensitive SC-ICP-MS method was developed to quantitatively study the interactions of AgNPs with yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The method can quantify the cell concentration, silver concentration per cell, and profile the nanoparticle distribution in a yeast cell population. AgNP dosing time, concentration, and AgNP size were quantitatively evaluated for their effects on AgNP-yeast cell interactions. The results showed that the initial uptake of AgNPs was rapid and primarily driven by the mass of Ag per cell. The optimal dosing particle concentrations for highest uptake were approximately 1820, 1000, and 300 AgNPs/cell for 10, 20, and 40 nm AgNPs, respectively. Furthermore, this study also validated a washing method for the application to a microorganism for the first time and was used to quantitatively determine the amount of cell surface–adsorbed AgNPs and intracellular AgNPs. These results indicated that the mass (Ag in ag/cell) ratios of intracelluar vs cell surface-adsorbed AgNPs were similar for different AgNP sizes. This high throughput and ultrasensitive SC-ICP-MS method is expected to have many potential applications, such as optimization of methods for green synthesis of AgNPs, nanotoxicity studies, and drug delivery. This is the first quantification study on the interactions of AgNPs and S. cerevisiae using SC-ICP-MS. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].



Second Department

Biological Sciences


Missouri University of Science and Technology, Grant None

Keywords and Phrases

Intracellular AgNP; Silver nanoparticle; Single-cell ICP-MS; Surface-adsorbed AgNP; Uptake of AgNP by yeast cell; Yeast cell

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1618-2650; 1618-2642

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Final Version

File Type





© 2023 Springer, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Apr 2022

PubMed ID


Included in

Chemistry Commons