Original Contribution

Colloid and Polymer Science

, Volume 289, Issue 3, pp 269-280

First online:

Synthesis and multidisciplinary characterization of polyelectrolyte multilayer-coated nanogold with improved stability toward aggregation

  • Subhra MandalAffiliated withSISSA—International School for Advanced Studies
  • , Alois BonifacioAffiliated withCentre of Excellence for Nanostructured Materials, University of Trieste
  • , Francesco ZanuttinAffiliated withNanoBioMed lab @ LANADA, CBM S.c.r.l—Cluster in Biomedicine
  • , Valter SergoAffiliated withCentre of Excellence for Nanostructured Materials, University of Trieste
  • , Silke KrolAffiliated withNanoBioMed lab @ LANADA, CBM S.c.r.l—Cluster in BiomedicineEuropean Centre for Nanomedicine, Fondazione I.R.C.C.S. Istituto Neurologico “Carlo Besta” Email author 

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An interesting nanodrug delivery system is polyelectrolyte multilayer-coated nanogold. For better understanding of the binding of polycations or the counter-indicative deposition of polyanions on the citrate-stabilized gold nanoparticles, we used a surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy to characterize the orientation of the polyions towards the gold surface. It was found that poly-allylamine replaces citrate molecules while the polyanion, poly-styrene sulfonate, intercalates in the citrate shell. One of the major obstacles for polyelectrolyte-coated nanogold is its tendency to agglomerate in the presence of high ion concentration as present, e.g., in blood. A novel encapsulation protocol for polyelectrolyte multilayer coating of gold nanoparticles was developed to successfully overcome this drawback. Moreover, electrostatic functionalization of the polyelectrolyte shell with a model target molecule for cancer, folic acid, induced a significant increase in the particle uptake in folate-receptor over-expressing breast cancer cell lines, VP 229 and MDA MB 231, compared to non-targeted particles or cells (non-activated macrophages) not expressing the folate receptor.


Gold nanoparticles Layer-by-layer Polyelectrolyte SERS Targeted delivery Cancer