Silver(I) is being largely studied for its antimicrobial properties. In parallel to that growing interest, some researchers are investigating the effect of this ion on eukaryotes and the mechanism of silver resistance of certain bacteria. For these studies, and more generally in biology, it is necessary to work in buffer systems that are most suitable, i.e., that interact least with silver cations. Selected buffers such as 4-(2-hydroxyethyl)-1-piperazineethane sulfonic acid (HEPES) were therefore investigated for their use in the presence of silver nitrate. Potentiometric titrations allowed to determine stability constants for the formation of (Ag(Buffer)) complexes. The obtained values were adapted to extract the apparent binding constants at physiological pH. The percentage of metal ions bound to the buffer was calculated at this pH for given concentrations of buffer and silver to realize at which extent silver was interacting with the buffer. We found that in the micromolar range, HEPES buffer is sufficiently coordinating to silver to have a non-negligible effect on the thermodynamic parameters determined for an analyte. Morpholinic buffers were more suitable as they turned out to be weaker complexing agents. We thus recommend the use of MOPS for studies of physiological pH.
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