Mode of PEG Coverage on Carbon Nanotubes Affects Binding of Innate Immune Protein C1q

J Phys Chem B. 2018 Jan 18;122(2):757-763. doi: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.7b06596. Epub 2017 Sep 27.


Surface modification of nanoparticles with poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) is used in biomedicine to increase the circulation time of the particles after intravenous injection. Here, we study the interaction of PEG-covered carbon nanotubes (CNTs) with the serum complement protein C1q. Besides being the target-recognizing unit of the initiating complex for the classical pathway of complement in our innate immune system, C1q is involved in a range of important physiological processes. We modified the surface of multiwalled CNTs with covalently grafted PEG and physically adsorbed PEG. Transmission electron microscopy revealed the interaction of these PEG-coated CNTs with C1q. We found abundant C1q coverage on the PEG-grafted CNTs but not on the CNTs with adsorbed PEG. We tested the ability of these CNTs to activate the complement system using in vitro complement activation assays. None of the CNTs studied activated the C1q-dependent classical complement pathway. These findings are pertinent to the safe design and novel biomedical applications of PEGylated CNTs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't