Nanoparticle Properties Modulate Their Attachment and Effect on Carrier Red Blood Cells

Sci Rep. 2018 Jan 25;8(1):1615. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-19897-8.


Attachment of nanoparticles (NPs) to the surface of carrier red blood cells (RBCs) profoundly alters their interactions with the host organism, decelerating NP clearance from the bloodstream while enabling NP transfer from the RBC surface to the vascular cells. These changes in pharmacokinetics of NPs imposed by carrier RBCs are favorable for many drug delivery purposes. On the other hand, understanding effects of NPs on the carrier RBCs is vital for successful translation of this novel drug delivery paradigm. Here, using two types of distinct nanoparticles (polystyrene (PSNP) and lysozyme-dextran nanogels (LDNG)) we assessed potential adverse and sensitizing effects of surface adsorption of NPs on mouse and human RBCs. At similar NP loadings (approx. 50 particles per RBC), adsorption of PSNPs, but not LDNGs, induces RBCs agglutination and sensitizes RBCs to damage by osmotic, mechanical and oxidative stress. PSNPs, but not LDNGs, increase RBC stiffening and surface exposure of phosphatidylserine, both known to accelerate RBC clearance in vivo. Therefore, NP properties and loading amounts have a profound impact on RBCs. Furthermore, LDNGs appear conducive to nanoparticle drug delivery using carrier RBCs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adsorption*
  • Animals
  • Biological Phenomena
  • Chemical Phenomena
  • Dextrans / metabolism
  • Drug Delivery Systems*
  • Erythrocytes / drug effects*
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism*
  • Erythrocytes / physiology
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Nanoparticles / metabolism*
  • Polystyrenes / metabolism


  • Dextrans
  • Polystyrenes