Date: 12 May 2013

Gold nanoparticles: role of size and surface chemistry on blood protein adsorption

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Abstract

Material interaction with blood proteins is a critical issue, since it could influence the biological processes taking place in the body following implantation/injection. This is particularly important in the case of nanoparticles, where innovative properties, such as size and high surface to volume ratio can lead to a behavioral change with respect to bulk macroscopic materials and could be responsible for a potential risk for human health. The aim of this work was to compare gold nanoparticles (AuNP) and planar surfaces to study the role of surface curvature moving from the macro- to the nano-size in the process of blood protein adsorption. In the course of the study, different protocols were tested to optimize the analysis of protein adsorption on gold nanoparticles. AuNP with different size (10, 60 and 200 nm diameter) and surface coatings (citrate and polyethylene glycol) were carefully characterized. The stabilizing action of blood proteins adsorbed on AuNP was studied measuring the variation of size and solubility of the nanoparticles following incubation with single protein solutions (human serum albumin and fibrinogen) and whole blood plasma. In addition, we developed a method to elute proteins from AuNP to study the propensity of gold materials to adsorb plasma proteins in function of dimensional characteristics and surface chemistry. We showed a different efficacy of the various eluting media tested, proving that even the most aggressive agent cannot provide a complete detachment of the protein corona. Enhanced protein adsorption was evidenced on AuNP if compared to gold laminae (bare and PEGylated) used as macroscopic control, probably due to the superior AuNP surface reactivity.