Geometry and surface characteristics of gold nanoparticles influence their biodistribution and uptake by macrophages

Eur J Pharm Biopharm. 2011 Apr;77(3):417-23. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpb.2010.11.010. Epub 2010 Nov 18.


Spherical and rod-shaped gold nanoparticles with surface poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) chains were characterized for size, shape, charge, poly dispersity and surface plasmon resonance. The nanoparticles were injected intravenously to 6-8-week-old female nu/nu mice bearing orthotopic ovarian tumors, and their biodistribution in vital organs was compared. Gold nanorods were taken up to a lesser extent by the liver, had longer circulation time in the blood, and higher accumulation in the tumors, compared with their spherical counterparts. The cellular uptake of PEGylated gold nanoparticles by a murine macrophage-like cell line as a function of geometry was examined. Compared to nanospheres, PEGylated gold nanorods were taken up to a lesser extent by macrophages. These studies point to the importance of gold nanoparticle geometry and surface properties on transport across biological barriers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Cell Line
  • Female
  • Gold*
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • Metal Nanoparticles / administration & dosage*
  • Metal Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Nanotubes / chemistry
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Particle Size
  • Polyethylene Glycols / chemistry
  • Protein Binding
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine / chemistry
  • Surface Properties
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Serum Albumin, Bovine
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Gold