Protein corona composition does not accurately predict hematocompatibility of colloidal gold nanoparticles

Nanomedicine. 2014 Oct;10(7):1453-63. doi: 10.1016/j.nano.2014.01.009. Epub 2014 Feb 7.


Proteins bound to nanoparticle surfaces are known to affect particle clearance by influencing immune cell uptake and distribution to the organs of the mononuclear phagocytic system. The composition of the protein corona has been described for several types of nanomaterials, but the role of the corona in nanoparticle biocompatibility is not well established. In this study we investigate the role of nanoparticle surface properties (PEGylation) and incubation times on the protein coronas of colloidal gold nanoparticles. While neither incubation time nor PEG molecular weight affected the specific proteins in the protein corona, the total amount of protein binding was governed by the molecular weight of PEG coating. Furthermore, the composition of the protein corona did not correlate with nanoparticle hematocompatibility. Specialized hematological tests should be used to deduce nanoparticle hematotoxicity. From the clinical editor: It is overall unclear how the protein corona associated with colloidal gold nanoparticles may influence hematotoxicity. This study warns that PEGylation itself may be insufficient, because composition of the protein corona does not directly correlate with nanoparticle hematocompatibility. The authors suggest that specialized hematological tests must be used to deduce nanoparticle hematotoxicity.

Keywords: Coagulation; Complement; Hematocompatibility; Nanoparticles; Protein corona.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Blood Coagulation
  • Colloids*
  • Complement System Proteins
  • Gold / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Metal Nanoparticles*
  • Polyethylene Glycols / chemistry
  • Protein Binding
  • Proteins / chemistry*


  • Colloids
  • Proteins
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Gold
  • Complement System Proteins