Nanoparticle impact on innate immune cell pattern-recognition receptors and inflammasomes activation

Semin Immunol. 2017 Dec;34:3-24. doi: 10.1016/j.smim.2017.09.003. Epub 2017 Sep 21.


Nanotechnology-based strategies can dramatically impact the treatment, prevention and diagnosis of a wide range of diseases. Despite the unprecedented success achieved with the use of nanomaterials to address unmet biomedical needs and their particular suitability for the effective application of a personalized medicine, the clinical translation of those nanoparticulate systems has still been impaired by the limited understanding on their interaction with complex biological systems. As a result, unexpected effects due to unpredicted interactions at biomaterial and biological interfaces have been underlying the biosafety concerns raised by the use of nanomaterials. This review explores the current knowledge on how nanoparticle (NP) physicochemical and surface properties determine their interactions with innate immune cells, with particular attention on the activation of pattern-recognition receptors and inflammasome. A critical perspective will additionally address the impact of biological systems on the effect of NP on immune cell activity at the molecular level. We will discuss how the understanding of the NP-innate immune cell interactions can significantly add into the clinical translation by guiding the design of nanomedicines with particular effect on targeted cells, thus improving their clinical efficacy while minimizing undesired but predictable toxicological effects.

Keywords: Dendritic cell; Inflammasome; Innate immune cell; Nanoparticle; Pattern-recognition receptor; Physicochemical property.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Immunomodulation
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Inflammasomes / metabolism*
  • Nanomedicine*
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • Nanoparticles / metabolism*
  • Nanotechnology*
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition / metabolism


  • Inflammasomes
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition