A nanoinformatics decision support tool for the virtual screening of gold nanoparticle cellular association using protein corona fingerprints

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Colleges, School and Institutes


The increasing use of nanoparticles (NPs) in a wide range of consumer and industrial applications has necessitated significant effort to address the challenge of characterizing and quantifying the underlying nanostructure–biological response relationships to ensure that these novel materials can be exploited responsibly and safely. Such efforts demand reliable experimental data not only in terms of the biological dose-response, but also regarding the physicochemical properties of the NPs and their interaction with the biological environment. The latter has not been extensively studied, as a large surface to bind biological macromolecules is a unique feature of NPs that is not relevant for chemicals or pharmaceuticals, and thus only limited data have been reported in the literature quantifying the protein corona formed when NPs interact with a biological medium and linking this with NP cellular association/uptake. In this work we report the development of a predictive model for the assessment of the biological response (cellular association, which can include both internalized NPs and those attached to the cell surface) of surface-modified gold NPs, based on their physicochemical properties and protein corona fingerprints, utilizing a dataset of 105 unique NPs. Cellular association was chosen as the end-point for the original experimental study due to its relevance to inflammatory responses, biodistribution, and toxicity in vivo. The validated predictive model is freely available online through the Enalos Cloud Platform (http://enalos.insilicotox.com/NanoProteinCorona/) to be used as part of a regulatory or NP safe-by-design decision support system. This online tool will allow the virtual screening of NPs, based on a list of the significant NP descriptors, identifying those NPs that would warrant further toxicity testing on the basis of predicted NP cellular association.


Original languageEnglish
Early online date5 Sep 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Sep 2018


  • cell association, Enalos Cloud platform, hazard characterization, nanoinformatics, Nanoparticles, protein corona, risk assessment, toxicity, web service

ASJC Scopus subject areas