Time-Dependent Internalization of Polymer-Coated Silica Nanoparticles in Brain Endothelial Cells and Morphological and Functional Effects on the Blood-Brain Barrier

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Feb 6;22(4):1657. doi: 10.3390/ijms22041657.


Nanoparticle (NP)-assisted procedures including laser tissue soldering (LTS) offer advantages compared to conventional microsuturing, especially in the brain. In this study, effects of polymer-coated silica NPs used in LTS were investigated in human brain endothelial cells (ECs) and blood-brain barrier models. In the co-culture setting with ECs and pericytes, only the cell type directly exposed to NPs displayed a time-dependent internalization. No transfer of NPs between the two cell types was observed. Cell viability was decreased relatively to NP exposure duration and concentration. Protein expression of the nuclear factor ĸ-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells and various endothelial adhesion molecules indicated no initiation of inflammation or activation of ECs after NP exposure. Differentiation of CD34+ ECs into brain-like ECs co-cultured with pericytes, blood-brain barrier (BBB) characteristics were obtained. The established endothelial layer reduced the passage of integrity tracer molecules. NP exposure did not result in alterations of junctional proteins, BBB formation or its integrity. In a 3-dimensional setup with an endothelial tube formation and tight junctions, barrier formation was not disrupted by the NPs and NPs do not seem to cross the blood-brain barrier. Our findings suggest that these polymer-coated silica NPs do not damage the BBB.

Keywords: 3D model; co-culture; permeability; transendothelial electrical resistance.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Biological Transport / physiology
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / drug effects*
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / physiology
  • Brain / blood supply
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Cattle
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cerebral Revascularization / methods*
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Laser Therapy / methods
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Nanoparticles / metabolism*
  • Pericytes / metabolism
  • Polymers / pharmacology*
  • Silicon Dioxide / pharmacology*


  • NF-kappa B
  • Polymers
  • Silicon Dioxide