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ACS Nano. 2014 Oct 28;8(10):10168-77. doi: 10.1021/nn502986e. Epub 2014 Sep 19.

Graphene oxide enhances cellular delivery of hydrophilic small molecules by co-incubation.

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Department of Chemistry, Molecular Biosciences, Neurobiology, Biomedical Engineering, and Radiology, Northwestern University , 2145 Sheridan Road, Evanston, Illinois 60208-3113, United States.


The delivery of bioactive molecules into cells has broad applications in biology and medicine. Polymer-modified graphene oxide (GO) has recently emerged as a de facto noncovalent vehicle for hydrophobic drugs. Here, we investigate a different approach using native GO to deliver hydrophilic molecules by co-incubation in culture. GO adsorption and delivery were systematically studied with a library of 15 molecules synthesized with Gd(III) labels to enable quantitation. Amines were revealed to be a key chemical group for adsorption, while delivery was shown to be quantitatively predictable by molecular adsorption, GO sedimentation, and GO size. GO co-incubation was shown to enhance delivery by up to 13-fold and allowed for a 100-fold increase in molecular incubation concentration compared to the alternative of nanoconjugation. When tested in the application of Gd(III) cellular MRI, these advantages led to a nearly 10-fold improvement in sensitivity over the state-of-the-art. GO co-incubation is an effective method of cellular delivery that is easily adoptable by researchers across all fields.


adsorption; cell culture; delivery vehicle; gadolinium; graphene oxide; sedimentation; surface interaction

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