Nanoparticle physicochemical properties determine the activation of intracellular complement

Nanomedicine. 2019 Apr;17:266-275. doi: 10.1016/j.nano.2019.02.002. Epub 2019 Feb 20.


The complement system plays an essential role in both innate and adaptive immunity. The traditional understanding of this system comes from studies investigating complement proteins produced by the liver and present in plasma to "complement" the immune cell-mediated response to invading pathogens. Recently, it has been reported that immune cells including, but not limited to, T-cells and monocytes, express complement proteins. This complement is referred to as intracellular (IC) and implicated in the regulation of T-cell activation. The mechanisms and the structure-activity relationship between nanomaterials and IC, however, are currently unknown. Herein, we describe a structure-activity relationship study demonstrating that under in vitro conditions, only polymeric materials with cationic surfaces activate IC in T-cells. The effect also depends on particle size and occurs through a mechanism involving membrane damage, thereby IC on the cell surface serves as a self-opsonization marker in response to the nanoparticle-triggered danger affecting the cell integrity.

Keywords: Anaphylatoxins; CARPA; Complement; Hypersensitivity; IC; In vitro; Infusion reactions; Nanoparticles; Preclinical; T-cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cations / adverse effects
  • Cations / chemistry
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Complement Activation* / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Jurkat Cells
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / drug effects
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Activation*
  • Nanoparticles / adverse effects*
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • Polymers / adverse effects*
  • Polymers / chemistry
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*


  • Cations
  • Polymers