Biocompatibility and biodistribution of surface-modified yttrium oxide nanoparticles for potential theranostic applications

  • Hossam SayourEmail author
  • Samr Kassem
  • Francesco Canfarotta
  • Joanna Czulak
  • Medhat Mohamed
  • Sergey Piletsky
Nanotechnology, Nanopollution, Nanotoxicology and Nanomedicine (NNNN)


The surface of ultrafine yttrium oxide nanoparticles (NPs) with mean size of 7–8 nm was modified with a functional polymer layer to improve their dispersion and impart fluorescent properties for imaging purposes. Surface functionalization was achieved by silanization of yttrium oxide NPs with 3-trimethoxysilylpropyl methacrylate followed by grafting of a co-polymer made of acrylic acid (AA) and ethylene glycol methacrylate phosphate (EGMP). The polymer shell decreases the surface energy of NPs, enhances their polarity, and, as a result, improves their colloidal stability. The synthesized NPs are capable of scavenging free radicals and for this reason have therapeutic potential that warrants further investigations. Furthermore, these stabilized core–shell NPs showed a very low cytotoxicity, confirming that the polymer shell sensibly improves the biocompatibility of bare yttrium oxide NPs, which are otherwise toxic on their own. Poly-EGMP yttrium NPs proved to be safe up to 0.1 mg/g body weight in 1 month old Sprague–Dawley rats, showing also the ability to cross the blood–brain barrier short time after tail injection. The surface modification of yttrium NPs here described allows these NPs to be potentially used in theranostics to reduce neurodegenerative damage due to the heat stress.


Surface modification Graft polymerization Core–shell Yttrium oxide nanoparticles Blood–brain barrier 


Funding information

This work was supported by the Science and Technology Development Fund (STDF), Short Term Fellowship-cycle 4, Egypt (grant number STF-6623).

Supplementary material

11356_2019_4309_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (211 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 210 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hossam Sayour
    • 1
    Email author
  • Samr Kassem
    • 2
  • Francesco Canfarotta
    • 3
  • Joanna Czulak
    • 4
  • Medhat Mohamed
    • 5
  • Sergey Piletsky
    • 4
  1. 1.Biomedical Chemistry Unit, Department of Chemistry and Nutritional Deficiency DisordersAnimal Health Research InstituteGizaEgypt
  2. 2.Department of BiotechnologyAnimal Health Research InstituteGizaEgypt
  3. 3.MIP Diagnostics Ltd.University of LeicesterLeicesterUK
  4. 4.Department of ChemistryUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK
  5. 5.Department of Animal Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary MedicineUniversity of Kafr El-SheikhKafr El-SheikhEgypt

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