The shape effect of mesoporous silica nanoparticles on biodistribution, clearance, and biocompatibility in vivo

ACS Nano. 2011 Jul 26;5(7):5390-9. doi: 10.1021/nn200365a. Epub 2011 Jun 8.


In our previous study we reported that the interaction of nanoparticles with cells can be influenced by particle shape, but until now the effect of particle shape on in vivo behavior remained poorly understood. In the present study, we control the fabrication of fluorescent mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNs) by varying the concentration of reaction reagents especially to design a series of shapes. Two different shaped fluorescent MSNs (aspect ratios, 1.5, 5) were specially designed, and the effects of particle shape on biodistribution, clearance and biocompatibility in vivo were investigated. Organ distributions show that intravenously administrated MSNs are mainly present in the liver, spleen and lung (>80%) and there is obvious particle shape effects on in vivo behaviors. Short-rod MSNs are easily trapped in the liver, while long-rod MSNs distribute in the spleen. MSNs with both aspect ratios have a higher content in the lung after PEG modification. We also found MSNs are mainly excreted by urine and feces, and the clearance rate of MSNs is primarily dependent on the particle shape, where short-rod MSNs have a more rapid clearance rate than long-rod MSNs in both excretion routes. Hematology, serum biochemistry, and histopathology results indicate that MSNs would not cause significant toxicity in vivo, but there is potential induction of biliary excretion and glomerular filtration dysfunction. These findings may provide useful information for the design of nanoscale delivery systems and the environmental fate of nanoparticles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Coated Materials, Biocompatible / chemistry*
  • Coated Materials, Biocompatible / metabolism
  • Coated Materials, Biocompatible / pharmacokinetics*
  • Coated Materials, Biocompatible / toxicity
  • Fluorescein-5-isothiocyanate / chemistry
  • Hematologic Tests
  • Materials Testing*
  • Mice
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Nanotechnology / methods*
  • Polyethylene Glycols / chemistry
  • Porosity
  • Silicon Dioxide / chemistry*


  • Coated Materials, Biocompatible
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Silicon Dioxide
  • Fluorescein-5-isothiocyanate