Influence of Size and Shape on the Anatomical Distribution of Endotoxin-Free Gold Nanoparticles

Laura Talamini, Martina B Violatto, Qi Cai, Marco P Monopoli, Karsten Kantner, Željka Krpetić, André Perez-Potti, Jennifer Cookman, David Garry, Camila P Silveira, Luca Boselli, Beatriz Pelaz, Tommaso Serchi, Sébastien Cambier, Arno C Gutleb, Neus Feliu, Yan Yan, Mario Salmona, Wolfgang J Parak, Kenneth A DawsonPaolo Bigini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The transport and the delivery of drugs through nanocarriers is a great challenge of pharmacology. Since the production of liposomes to reduce the toxicity of doxorubicin in patients, a plethora of nanomaterials have been produced and characterized. Although it is widely known that elementary properties of nanomaterials influence their in vivo kinetics, such interaction is often poorly investigated in many preclinical studies. The present study aims to evaluate the actual effect of size and shape on the biodistribution of a set of gold nanoparticles (GNPs) after intravenous administration in mice. To this goal, quantitative data achieved by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and observational results emerging from histochemistry (autometallography and enhanced dark-field hyperspectral microscopy) were combined. Since the immune system plays a role in bionano-interaction we used healthy immune-competent mice. To keep the immune surveillance on the physiological levels we synthesized endotoxin-free GNPs to be tested in specific pathogen-free animals. Our study mainly reveals that (a) the size and the shape greatly influence the kinetics of accumulation and excretion of GNPs in filter organs; (b) spherical and star-like GNPs showed the same percentage of accumulation, but a different localization in liver; (c) only star-like GNPs are able to accumulate in lung; (d) changes in the geometry did not improve the passage of the blood brain barrier. Overall, this study can be considered as a reliable starting point to drive the synthesis and the functionalization of potential candidates for theranostic purposes in many fields of research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5519-5529
Number of pages11
JournalACS Nano
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 27 2017


  • Journal Article


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