Precise quantification of nanoparticle internalization

Claudia Gottstein, Guohui Wu, Benjamin J. Wong, Joseph Anthony Zasadzinski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Nanoparticles have opened new exciting avenues for both diagnostic and therapeutic applications in human disease, and targeted nanoparticles are increasingly used as specific drug delivery vehicles. The precise quantification of nanoparticle internalization is of importance to measure the impact of physical and chemical properties on the uptake of nanoparticles into target cells or into cells responsible for rapid clearance. Internalization of nanoparticles has been measured by various techniques, but comparability of data between different laboratories is impeded by lack of a generally accepted standardized assay. Furthermore, the distinction between associated and internalized particles has been a challenge for many years, although this distinction is critical for most research questions. Previously used methods to verify intracellular location are typically not quantitative and do not lend themselves to high-throughput analysis. Here, we developed a mathematical model which integrates the data from high-throughput flow cytometry measurements with data from quantitative confocal microscopy. The generic method described here will be a useful tool in biomedical nanotechnology studies. The method was then applied to measure the impact of surface coatings of vesosomes on their internalization by cells of the reticuloendothelial system (RES). RES cells are responsible for rapid clearance of nanoparticles, and the resulting fast blood clearance is one of the major challenges in biomedical applications of nanoparticles. Coating of vesosomes with long chain polyethylene glycol showed a trend for lower internalization by RES cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4933-4945
Number of pages13
JournalACS nano
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 25 2013


  • confocal laser scanning microscopy
  • drug delivery
  • flow cytometry
  • nanoparticle internalization
  • polyethylene glycol
  • reticuloendothelial system
  • vesosomes


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