Surface chemistry-dependent evolution of the nanomaterial corona on TiO2 nanomaterials following uptake and sub-cellular localization

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Alessandro Di Maio
  • Dan Pencross
  • Selina Tang
  • Marie-France A. Belinga-Desaunay
  • Iseult Lynch


Nanomaterial (NM) surface chemistry has an established and significant effect on interactions at the nano-bio interface, with important toxicological consequences for manufactured NMs, as well as potent effects on the pharmacokinetics and efficacy of nano-therapies. In this work, the effects of different surface modifications (PVP, Dispex AA4040, and Pluronic F127) on the uptake, cellular distribution, and degradation of titanium dioxide NMs (TiO2 NMs, ~10 nm core size) are assessed and correlated with the localization of fluorescently-labeled serum proteins forming their coronas. Imaging approaches with an increasing spatial resolution, including automated high throughput live cell imaging, correlative confocal fluorescence and reflectance microscopy, and dSTORM super-resolution microscopy, are used to explore the cellular fate of these NMs and their associated serum proteins. Uncoated TiO2 NMs demonstrate a rapid loss of corona proteins, while surface coating results in the retention of the corona signal after internalization for at least 24 h (varying with coating composition). Imaging with two-color super-resolution dSTORM revealed that the apparent TiO2 NM single agglomerates observed in diffraction-limited confocal microscopy are actually adjacent smaller agglomerates, and provides novel insights into the spatial arrangement of the initial and exchanged coronas adsorbed at the NM surfaces.


Original languageEnglish
Article number401
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2020


  • nanosafety, protein corona, bionano-interface, cellular uptake, cellular localization, co-localisation, reflectance imaging