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J R Soc Interface. 2013 Feb 20;10(82):20120939. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2012.0939. Print 2013 May 6.

New views on cellular uptake and trafficking of manufactured nanoparticles.

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Institute of Applied Physics and Center for Functional Nanostructures, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany.


Nanoparticles (NPs) are of similar size to typical cellular components and proteins, and can efficiently intrude living cells. A detailed understanding of the involved processes at the molecular level is important for developing NPs designed for selective uptake by specific cells, for example, for targeted drug delivery. In addition, this knowledge can greatly assist in the engineering of NPs that should not penetrate cells so as to avoid adverse health effects. In recent years, a wide variety of experiments have been performed to elucidate the mechanisms underlying cellular NP uptake. Here, we review some select recent studies, which are often based on fluorescence microscopy and sophisticated strategies for specific labelling of key cellular components. We address the role of the protein corona forming around NPs in biological environments, and describe recent work revealing active endocytosis mechanisms and pathways involved in their cellular uptake. Passive uptake is also discussed. The current state of knowledge is summarized, and we point to issues that still need to be addressed to further advance our understanding of cellular NP uptake.

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