Uptake and intracellular fate of surface-modified gold nanoparticles

ACS Nano. 2008 Aug;2(8):1639-44. doi: 10.1021/nn800330a.


Understanding and controlling the interactions between nanoscale objects and living cells is of great importance for arising diagnostic and therapeutic applications of nanoparticles and for nanotoxicology studies. Here we report a detailed transmission electron microscopy (TEM) study of the uptake of ca. 16 nm surface-modified gold nanoparticles by human fibroblast cells (HeLa cells). It is demonstrated that the well-established endosomal route of cellular uptake can be bypassed to a significant extent by controlling the uptake mechanism either via the delivery of the nanoparticles by liposomes or by surface modification of the nanoparticles with so-called cell penetrating peptides (CPPs). Successful nuclear targeting is demonstrated using surface modification with a cocktail of CPPs and a peptide acting as a nuclear localization signal (NLS).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Endocytosis / physiology*
  • Gold / chemistry*
  • Gold / pharmacokinetics*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Nanostructures / chemistry*
  • Nanostructures / ultrastructure*
  • Nanotechnology / methods*
  • Particle Size
  • Subcellular Fractions / metabolism*


  • Gold