Pegylated silica nanoparticles: cytotoxicity and macrophage uptake
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Here, we present a thorough study of pegylated silica nanoparticle (SNP) interaction with different biological environments. The SNPs have a mean diameter of about 40 nm and are coated with polyethylene glycol (PEG) of different molecular weights. The physicochemical characterization of SNPs allowed the confirmation of the binding of PEG chains to the silica surface, the reproducibility of the synthesis and the narrow size-dispersion. In view of clarifying the SNP interaction with biological environments, we first assessed the SNP reactivity after the incubation with two cell lines (macrophages RAW 264.7 and primary human fibroblasts), observing a reduced toxicity of pegylated SNPs compared to the bare ones. Then, we investigated the effect of the protein adsorption on the SNP surface using the model serum protein, bovine serum albumin (BSA). We found that the protein adsorption takes place more heavily on poorly pegylated SNPs, promoting the uptake of the latter by macrophages and leading to an increased mortality of these cells. To better understand this mechanism by means of flow cytometry, the dye Ru(bpy)3Cl2 was incorporated in the SNPs. The overall results highlight the SNP potentialities as a drug delivery system, thanks to the low interactions with the macrophages.
KeywordsSilica Silica nanoparticles Polyethylene glycol PEG Pegylation Macrophage Interaction BSA Cell uptake Biocompatibility
The authors thank Mr. A. Skripka for the helpful discussions.
Compliance with ethical standards
This study was funded by Fondazione Cariverona, Verona Nanomedicine Initiative and Italian Minister of Health RF-2010-2305526.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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