Royal Society Publishing


Nanoparticles are finding a rapidly expanding range of applications in research and technology, finally entering our daily life in medical, cosmetic or food products. Their ability to invade all regions of an organism including cells and cellular organelles offers new strategies for medical diagnosis and therapy (nanomedicine), but their safe use requires a deep knowledge about their interactions with biological systems at the molecular level. Upon incorporation, nanoparticles are exposed to biological fluids from which they adsorb proteins and other biomolecules to form a ‘protein corona’. These nanoparticle–protein interactions are still poorly understood and quantitative studies to characterize them remain scarce. Here we have quantitatively analysed the adsorption of human transferrin onto small (radius approx. 5 nm) polymer-coated FePt nanoparticles by using fluorescence correlation spectroscopy. Transferrin binds to the negatively charged nanoparticles with an affinity of approximately 26 µM in a cooperative fashion and forms a monolayer with a thickness of 7 nm. By using confocal fluorescence microscopy, we have observed that the uptake of FePt nanoparticles by HeLa cells is suppressed by the protein corona compared with the bare nanoparticles.


  • One contribution to a Theme Supplement ‘NanoBioInterface: crossing borders’.

    • Received July 7, 2009.
    • Accepted August 25, 2009.
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