Morphology of nanoparticles is critical to their biological interactions

21 December 2011

Southampton University researchers have shown that the morphology of nanoparticles is critical to the way they interact with endothelial cells.

Endothelial cells are the building units of angiogenesis, a critical biological process that is involved in wound healing, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

“We already know that a small dose of gold nanoparticles can activate or inhibit angiogenic genes in endothelial cells” said Dr Kanaras. “Now, our new findings published this week show how nanoparticle morphology strongly affects their interaction with endothelial cells. This will be of critical importance to nanotechnological applications that target drug delivery and therapy.”

In the study, Dr Kanaras and his colleagues investigated how the shape and size of gold nanoparticles influences their uptake by endothelial cells — they compared gold nanospheres, nanorods, hollow gold spheres, and core/shell silica/gold nanocrystals, coated with monocarboxy (1-mercaptoundec-11-yl) hexaethylene glycol (OEG).

The authors found that although rod-shape nanoparticles are taken up in greater numbers than hollow gold spheres, they are equally efficient in promoting cell death when laser hyperthermia is employed. Being able to promote the same effect but with distinguishable lower doses of hollow particles is critical in considering these particles for biomedical applications.


Dorota Bartczak, Otto L. Muskens, Simone Nitti, Tilman Sanchez-Elsner, Timothy M. Millar and Antonios Kanaras.b. Interactions of Human Endothelial Cells with Gold Nanoparticles of Different Morphologies. Small Journal, 18 November 2011, DOI: 10.1002/smll.201101422 .

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