Immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory properties of engineered nanomaterials

Br J Pharmacol. 2014 Sep;171(17):3988-4000. doi: 10.1111/bph.12722. Epub 2014 Jul 2.


Nanoparticle interactions with various components of the immune system are determined by their physicochemical properties such as size, charge, hydrophobicity and shape. Nanoparticles can be engineered to either specifically target the immune system or to avoid immune recognition. Nevertheless, identifying their unintended impacts on the immune system and understanding the mechanisms of such accidental effects are essential for establishing a nanoparticle's safety profile. While immunostimulatory properties have been reviewed before, little attention in the literature has been given to immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory properties. The purpose of this review is to fill this gap. We will discuss intended immunosuppression achieved by either nanoparticle engineering, or the use of nanoparticles to carry immunosuppressive or anti-inflammatory drugs. We will also review unintended immunosuppressive properties of nanoparticles per se and consider how such properties could be either beneficial or adverse.

Keywords: anti-inflammatory properties; immune inhibition; immune system; immunosuppression; inflammation; nanoparticles.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / immunology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Immune System / drug effects
  • Immune System / immunology
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / immunology*
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / pharmacology
  • Nanostructures* / chemistry


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Immunosuppressive Agents