Nanoparticle size and surface properties determine the protein corona with possible implications for biological impacts

M. Lundqvist, J. Stigler, I. Lynch, T. Cedervall, K.A. Dawson, G. Elia

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2499 Citations (Scopus)


Nanoparticles in a biological fluid (plasma, or otherwise) associate with a range of biopolymers, especially proteins, organized into the "protein corona" that is associated with the nanoparticle and continuously exchanging with the proteins in the environment. Methodologies to determine the corona and to understand its dependence on nanomaterial properties are likely to become important in bionanoscience. Here, we study the long-lived ("hard") protein corona formed from human plasma for a range of nanoparticles that differ in surface properties and size. Six different polystyrene nanoparticles were studied: three different surface chemistries (plain PS, carboxyl-modified, and amine-modified) and two sizes of each (50 and 100 nm), enabling us to perform systematic studies of the effect of surface properties and size on the detailed protein coronas. Proteins in the corona that are conserved and unique across the nanoparticle types were identified and classified according to the protein functional properties. Remarkably, both size and surface properties were found to play a very significant role in determining the nanoparticle coronas on the different particles of identical materials. We comment on the future need for scientific understanding, characterization, and possibly some additional emphasis on standards for the surfaces of nanoparticles.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14265-14270
Number of pages6
JournalNational Academy of Sciences. Proceedings
Issue number38
Publication statusPublished - 23 Sept 2008

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