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Nanoscale. 2018 Jul 9;10(26):12386-12397. doi: 10.1039/c8nr02393j.

Influence of protein corona and caveolae-mediated endocytosis on nanoparticle uptake and transcytosis.

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NUS Graduate School for Integrative Sciences and Engineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore.


Transcytosis of nanoparticles (NPs) is emerging as an attractive alternative to the paracellular route in cancer drug delivery with studies suggesting targeting caveolae-mediated endocytosis to maximize NP transcytosis. However, there are limited studies on transcytosis of NPs, especially for corona-coated NPs. Most studies focused on cellular uptake as an indirect measure of the NP's transcellular permeability (Pd). Here, we probed the effect of protein corona on the uptake and transcytosis of 20, 40, 100, and 200 nm polystyrene nanoparticles (pNP-PC) across HUVECs in a microfluidic channel that modelled the microvasculature. We observed increased cell uptake with size of pNP-PC although it was the smallest 20 nm pNP-PC that exhibited the highest transcellular Pd. In the absence of corona however, cell uptake decreased with size, and the largest 200 nm pNP-PEG exhibited the lowest transcellular Pd. By inhibiting caveolae-mediated endocytosis in HUVECs, smaller pNPs had a larger drop in cell uptake than larger pNPs, regardless of surface coating. However, only the smallest (20 nm) and largest (200 nm) pNP-PC had a decrease in Pd following inhibition with MβCD. Our findings showed that the protein corona affected the transcytosis of NPs, and their uptake by caveolae-mediated endocytosis did not necessarily lead to transcytosis.

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