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Semin Immunol. 2017 Dec;34:33-51. doi: 10.1016/j.smim.2017.08.013. Epub 2017 Aug 30.

Nanoparticles and innate immunity: new perspectives on host defence.

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Institute of Protein Biochemistry, National Research Council, Via Pietro Castellino 111, 80131 Napoli, Italy. Electronic address:
Institute of Protein Biochemistry, National Research Council, Via Pietro Castellino 111, 80131 Napoli, Italy.
Laboratory of Nanotechnology for Precision Medicine, Italian Institute of Technology Foundation, Via Morego 30, 16163 Genova, Italy.
Department of Molecular Biology, Paris-Lodron Universität Salzburg, Hellbrunner Strasse 34, 5020 Salzburg, Austria.
Nanosafety and Nanomedicine Laboratory, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Nobels väg 13, 171 77 Stockholm, Sweden.
School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health, Durham University, Queen's Campus, Stockton-on-Tees TS17 6BH, UK; Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University, Framlington Place, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4HH, UK.


The innate immune system provides the first line of defence against foreign microbes and particulate materials. Engineered nanoparticles can interact with the immune system in many different ways. Nanoparticles may thus elicit inflammation with engagement of neutrophils, macrophages and other effector cells; however, it is important to distinguish between acute and chronic inflammation in order to identify the potential hazards of nanoparticles for human health. Nanoparticles may also interact with and become internalised by dendritic cells, key antigen-presenting cells of the immune system, where a better understanding of these processes could pave the way for improved vaccination strategies. Nanoparticle characteristics such as size, shape and deformability also influence nanoparticle uptake by a plethora of immune cells and subsequent immune responses. Furthermore, the corona of adsorbed biomolecules on nanoparticle surfaces should not be neglected. Complement activation represents a special case of regulated and dynamic corona formation on nanoparticles with important implications in clearance and safety. Additionally, the inadvertent binding of bacterial lipopolysaccharide to nanoparticles is important to consider as this may skew the outcome and interpretation of immunotoxicological studies. Here, we discuss nanoparticle interactions with different cell types and soluble mediators belonging to the innate immune system.


Complement; Engineered nanoparticles; Immunosafety; Inflammation; Innate immunity; Toxicity

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