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Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2013 Feb 6;6(2):204-22. doi: 10.3390/ph6020204.

Elucidating the function of penetratin and a static magnetic field in cellular uptake of magnetic nanoparticles.

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Centre for Cell Engineering, Joseph Black Building, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G12 8QQ, UK.


Nanotechnology plays an increasingly important role in the biomedical arena. In particular, magnetic nanoparticles (mNPs) have become important tools in molecular diagnostics, in vivo imaging and improved treatment of disease, with the ultimate aim of producing a more theranostic approach. Due to their small sizes, the nanoparticles can cross most of the biological barriers such as the blood vessels and the blood brain barrier, thus providing ubiquitous access to most tissues. In all biomedical applications maximum nanoparticle uptake into cells is required. Two promising methods employed to this end include functionalization of mNPs with cell-penetrating peptides to promote efficient translocation of cargo into the cell and the use of external magnetic fields for enhanced delivery. This study aimed to compare the effect of both penetratin and a static magnetic field with regards to the cellular uptake of 200 nm magnetic NPs and determine the route of uptake by both methods. Results demonstrated that both techniques increased particle uptake, with penetratin proving more cell specific. Clathrin- medicated endocytosis appeared to be responsible for uptake as shown via PCR and western blot, with Pitstop 2 (known to selectively block clathrin formation) blocking particle uptake. Interestingly, it was further shown that a magnetic field was able to reverse or overcome the blocking, suggesting an alternative route of uptake.

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