Simultaneous characterisation of silver nanoparticles and determination of dissolved silver in chicken meat subjected to in vitro human gastrointestinal digestion using single particle inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry

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In this study, a chicken meat containing AgNPs (candidate reference material Nanolyse 14) has been used as a model matrix to study the fate and behaviour of AgNPs upon oral ingestion following an in vitro model that included saliva, gastric and intestinal digestions. The behaviour of a 40 nm AgNPs standard solution during the three digestion steps was also evaluated. Sample preparation conditions were optimised to prevent AgNPs oxidation and/or aggregation and to ensure the representativeness of the reported results. Total silver released from the test sample and the evaluated AgNP standard was determined by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICPMS). The presence of both AgNPs and dissolved silver in the extracts was confirmed by single particle (SP)-ICPMS analysis. AgNPs were sized and the particle number concentration determined in the three digestion juices. Experimental results demonstrated differentiated behaviours for AgNP from the standard solution and the meat sample highlighting the relevance of using physiological conditions for accurate risk assessment. In the most realistic scenario assayed (i.e., spiked chicken meat analysis), only 13% of the AgNPs present in the reference material would reach the intestine wall. Meanwhile, other bioaccessible dissolved forms of silver would account for as much as 44% of the silver initially spiked to the meat paste.