Proper design of silica nanoparticles combines high brightness, lack of cytotoxicity and efficient cell endocytosis

Enrico Rampazzo, Rebecca Voltan, Luca Petrizza, Nelsi Zaccheroni, Luca Prodi, Fabio Casciano, Giorgio Zauli, Paola Secchiero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Silica-based luminescent nanoparticles (SiNPs) show promising prospects in nanomedicine in light of their chemical properties and versatility. In this study, we have characterized silica core-PEG shell SiNPs derivatized with PEG moieties (NP-PEG), with external amino- (NP-PEG-amino) or carboxy-groups (NP-PEG-carbo), both in cell cultures as well as in animal models. By using different techniques, we could demonstrate that these SiNPs were safe and did not exhibit appreciable cytotoxicity in different relevant cell models, of normal or cancer cell types, growing either in suspension (JVM-2 leukemic cell line and primary normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells) or in adherence (human hepatocarcinoma Huh7 and umbilical vein endothelial cells). Moreover, by multiparametric flow cytometry, we could demonstrate that the highest efficiency of cell uptake and entry was observed with NP-PEG-amino, with a stable persistence of the fluorescence signal associated with SiNPs in the loaded cell populations both in vitro and in vivo settings suggesting this as an innovative method for cell traceability and detection in whole organisms. Finally, experiments performed with the endocytosis inhibitor Genistein clearly suggested the involvement of a caveolae-mediated pathway in SiNP endocytosis. Overall, these data support the safe use of these SiNPs for diagnostic and therapeutic applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7897-7905
Number of pages9
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - Sept 7 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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