Multi-parametric surface plasmon resonance platform for studying liposome-serum interactions and protein corona formation


When nanocarriers are administered into the blood circulation, a complex biomolecular layer known as the “protein corona” associates with their surface. Although the drivers of corona formation are not known, it is widely accepted that this layer mediates biological interactions of the nanocarrier with its surroundings. Label-free optical methods can be used to study protein corona formation without interfering with its dynamics. We demonstrate the proof-of-concept for a multi-parametric surface plasmon resonance (MP-SPR) technique in monitoring the formation of a protein corona on surface-immobilized liposomes subjected to flowing 100 % human serum. We observed the formation of formulation-dependent “hard” and “soft” coronas with distinct refractive indices, layer thicknesses, and surface mass densities. MP-SPR was also employed to determine the affinity (K D ) of a complement system molecule (C3b) with cationic liposomes with and without polyethylene glycol. Tendency to create a thick corona correlated with a higher affinity of opsonin C3b for the surface. The label-free platform provides a fast and robust preclinical tool for tuning nanocarrier surface architecture and composition to control protein corona formation.

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We are grateful to M.Sc. Tatu Lajunen, B.Sc. Riikka Nurmi, and M.Sc. Antti Louna for the help in preparing and characterizing the control liposome formulations, and to Leena Pietilä and Dr. Mari Palviainen for the help with serum collection and pooling. Liposomes coated with a lipidated oligo-guanidyl derivative were kindly supplied by Professor Stefano Salmaso, University of Padova. Financial support by the Academy of Finland (grants: #137053, #263861, #263567), Tekes—the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation EV-Extra-Tox project and the Professor Pool—Orion Research Foundation are gratefully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Tapani Viitala.

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All the reported experiments are in compliance with current Finnish law.

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The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest. T.R. is affiliated with BioNavis Ltd., Ylöjärvi, Finland.

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Otto K. Kari and Tatu Rojalin contributed equally to this work

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Kari, O.K., Rojalin, T., Salmaso, S. et al. Multi-parametric surface plasmon resonance platform for studying liposome-serum interactions and protein corona formation. Drug Deliv. and Transl. Res. 7, 228–240 (2017).

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  • Multi-parametric surface plasmon resonance (MP-SPR)
  • Protein corona
  • Soft corona
  • Liposome
  • Complement system
  • Opsonin