Immunological properties of engineered nanomaterials

Nat Nanotechnol. 2007 Aug;2(8):469-78. doi: 10.1038/nnano.2007.223. Epub 2007 Jul 29.


Most research on the toxicology of nanomaterials has focused on the effects of nanoparticles that enter the body accidentally. There has been much less research on the toxicology of nanoparticles that are used for biomedical applications, such as drug delivery or imaging, in which the nanoparticles are deliberately placed in the body. Moreover, there are no harmonized standards for assessing the toxicity of nanoparticles to the immune system (immunotoxicity). Here we review recent research on immunotoxicity, along with data on a range of nanotechnology-based drugs that are at different stages in the approval process. Research shows that nanoparticles can stimulate and/or suppress the immune responses, and that their compatibility with the immune system is largely determined by their surface chemistry. Modifying these factors can significantly reduce the immunotoxicity of nanoparticles and make them useful platforms for drug delivery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Humans
  • Immunotoxins / immunology*
  • Immunotoxins / toxicity*
  • Nanostructures / therapeutic use
  • Nanostructures / toxicity*


  • Immunotoxins