Formation of a protein corona influences the biological identity of nanomaterials

Rep Pract Oncol Radiother. Jul-Aug 2018;23(4):300-308. doi: 10.1016/j.rpor.2018.05.005. Epub 2018 May 28.


The development and testing of nanomaterials is an area of interest due to promising diagnostic and therapeutic applications in the treatment of diseases like cancer or cardiovascular disease. While extensive studies of the physicochemical properties of nanoparticles (NPs) are available, the investigation of the protein corona (PC) that is formed on NPs in biofluids is a relatively new area of research. The fact that few NPs are in clinical use indicates that the biological identity of NPs, which is in large part due to the PC formed in blood or other bodily fluids, may be altered in ways yet to be fully understood. Herein, we review the recent advances in PC research with the intent to highlight the current state of the field. We discuss the dynamic processes that control the formation of the PC on NPs, which involve the transient soft corona and more stable hard corona. Critical factors, like the environment and disease-state that affect the composition and stability of the PC are presented, with the intent of showcasing promising applications for utilizing the PC for disease diagnosis and the identification of disease-related biomarkers. This review summarizes the unique challenges presented by the nanoparticle corona and indicates future directions for investigation.

Keywords: Cancer; Immunotoxicity; Lipids; Nanotechnology; Proteins.