Inflammation-induced brain endothelial activation leads to uptake of electrostatically stabilized iron oxide nanoparticles via sulfated glycosaminoglycans

Nanomedicine. 2017 May;13(4):1411-1421. doi: 10.1016/j.nano.2017.01.010. Epub 2017 Jan 25.


Based on our previous data on the presence of very small superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (VSOP) on brain endothelial structures during experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), we investigated the mechanisms of VSOP binding on inflamed brain endothelial cells in vivo and in vitro. After intravenous application, VSOP were detected in brain endothelial cells of EAE animals at peak disease and prior to clinical onset. In vitro, inflammatory stimuli increased VSOP uptake by brain endothelial bEnd.3 cells, which we confirmed in primary endothelial cells and in bEnd.3 cells cultured under shear stress. Transmission electron microscopy and blocking experiments revealed that during inflammation VSOP were endocytosed by bEnd.3. Modified sulfated glycosaminoglycans (GAG) on inflamed brain endothelial cells were the primary binding site for VSOP, as GAG degradation and inhibition of GAG sulfation reduced VSOP uptake. Thus, VSOP-based MRI is sensitive to visualize early neuroinflammatory processes such as GAG modifications on brain endothelial cells.

Keywords: Brain endothelial cells; Extracellular matrix; Glycosaminglycans; Nanoparticles; Neuroinflammation; VSOP.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cell Line
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / metabolism*
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / pathology
  • Endocytosis
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Glycosaminoglycans / chemistry*
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Magnetite Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission


  • Glycosaminoglycans
  • Magnetite Nanoparticles