Synthetic Nanoparticles Functionalized With Biomimetic Leukocyte Membranes Possess Cell-Like Functions

Nat Nanotechnol. 2013 Jan;8(1):61-8. doi: 10.1038/nnano.2012.212. Epub 2012 Dec 16.


The therapeutic efficacy of systemic drug-delivery vehicles depends on their ability to evade the immune system, cross the biological barriers of the body and localize at target tissues. White blood cells of the immune system--known as leukocytes--possess all of these properties and exert their targeting ability through cellular membrane interactions. Here, we show that nanoporous silicon particles can successfully perform all these actions when they are coated with cellular membranes purified from leukocytes. These hybrid particles, called leukolike vectors, can avoid being cleared by the immune system. Furthermore, they can communicate with endothelial cells through receptor-ligand interactions, and transport and release a payload across an inflamed reconstructed endothelium. Moreover, leukolike vectors retained their functions when injected in vivo, showing enhanced circulation time and improved accumulation in a tumour.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Biomimetics / methods*
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Endothelium, Vascular / cytology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes / chemistry*
  • Leukocytes / metabolism
  • Liver / chemistry
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / chemistry
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / metabolism
  • Membranes, Artificial*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Models, Biological*
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Phagocytosis


  • Membranes, Artificial