Functionalized nanoparticles (NPs) can penetrate into living cells and vesicles, opening up an extensive range of novel directions. For example, NPs are intensively employed in targeted drug delivery and biomedical imaging. However, the real-time kinetics and dynamics of NP-living cell interactions remained uncovered. In this study, we in situ monitored the cellular uptake of gold NPs - functionalized with positively charged alkaline thiol - into surface-adhered cancer cells, by using a high-throughput label-free optical biosensor employing resonant waveguide gratings. The characteristic kinetic curves upon NP exposure of cell-coated biosensor surfaces were recorded and compared to the kinetics of NP adsorption onto bare sensor surfaces. We demonstrated that from the above kinetic information, one can conclude about the interactions between the living cells and the NPs. Real-time biosensor data suggested the cellular uptake of the functionalized NPs by an active process. It was found that positively charged particles penetrate into the cells more effectively than negatively charged control particles, and the optimal size for the cellular uptake of the positively charged particles is around 5 nm. These conclusions were obtained in a cost-effective, fast, and high-throughput manner. The fate of the NPs was further revealed by electron microscopy on NP-exposed and subsequently fixed cells, well confirming the results obtained by the biosensor. Moreover, an ultrastructural study demonstrated the involvement of the endosomal-lysosomal system in the uptake of functionalized NPs and suggested the type of the internalization pathway.
- nanoparticle uptake
- optical biosensor
- positively charged gold nanoparticles
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)