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Arch Pharm Res. 2014 Jan;37(1):129-41. doi: 10.1007/s12272-013-0292-2. Epub 2013 Dec 6.

Protein corona on magnetite nanoparticles and internalization of nanoparticle-protein complexes into healthy and cancer cells.

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National Engineering Research Center for Biomaterials, Sichuan University, Chengdu, 610064, Sichuan, China.


Superparamagnetic magnetite nanoparticles (MNPs) of different surface properties are incubated in complicated living fluid, including fetal bovine serum solution, cell complete culture medium and cell culture system with/without serum, to investigate the alteration of protein corona and its impact on cell internalization. The MNPs prepared by co-precipitation method are functionalized with L-Lysine (Lys), Glucosamic acid (GA) to obtain amine, carboxyl and hydroxyl groups, separately. All the particles adsorb serum proteins to form MNPs-protein complexes with the surface charge changing into negative. 1D SDS/PAGE gel images analysis indicates that the composition and content of hard protein corona on the surface of NPs are related to their functional groups and agglomeration, and the total amount of protein in the medium. In cell culture system, particles not only adsorb serum proteins, but also associate with cytosolic proteins arising from HepG2 and L02 cells. GA modified MNPs (MNPs-GA) exhibit bovine serum albumin anti-adsorption capability because of the terminal hydroxyl and carboxyl groups. MNPs-GA also shows the highest cellular uptake and label efficiency compared with uncoated MNPs and Lys modified MNPs, due to larger aggregates formation and specific protein corona composition, rather than commonly approved electrostatic interaction between particles and cells. For the first time, our results provide visualized reports on previously neglected, but indispensable protein corona of the MNPs after interaction with both healthy and cancer cells, suggesting that cytosolic protein corona from cells and aggregation of particles are important factors needed to be account for on studying the nano-bio interface.

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