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Sci Rep. 2012;2:211. doi: 10.1038/srep00211. Epub 2012 Jan 5.

Functionalized carboxyl nanoparticles enhance mucus dispersion and hydration.

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  • 1Bioengineering, University of California Merced , CA 95343, USA. 5200 North Lake Road, Merced, CA 95343, USA.


Luminal accumulation of viscous, poorly hydrated, and less transportable mucus has been associated with altered mucus rheology and reduced mucociliary clearance. These symptoms are some of the cardinal clinical manifestations found throughout major respiratory diseases as well as gastrointestinal and digestive disorders. Applications of current mucolytics may yield short-term improvements but are continuously challenged by undesirable side-effects. While nanoparticles (NPs) can interact with mucin polymers,whether functionalized NPs can rectify mucus rheology is unknown. Herein, we report that carboxyl-functionalized NPs (24 nm and 120 nm) dramatically reduced mucin gel size and accelerated mucin matrix hydration rate (diffusivity). Our results suggest that carboxyl-functionalized NPs disperse mucin gels possibly by enhancing network hydration. This report highlights the prospective usages of carboxyl-functionalized NPs as a novel mucus dispersant or mucolytic agent in adjusting mucus rheological properties and improving mucociliary transport to relieve clinical symptoms of patients suffering from relevant diseases.

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