Porous Silicon Nanoparticles Targeted to the Extracellular Matrix for Therapeutic Protein Delivery in Traumatic Brain Injury

Bioconjug Chem. 2022 Sep 21;33(9):1685-1697. doi: 10.1021/acs.bioconjchem.2c00305. Epub 2022 Aug 26.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of disability and death among children and young adults in the United States, yet there are currently no treatments that improve the long-term brain health of patients. One promising therapeutic for TBI is brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that promotes neurogenesis and neuron survival. However, outstanding challenges to the systemic delivery of BDNF are its instability in blood, poor transport into the brain, and short half-life in circulation and brain tissue. Here, BDNF is encapsulated into an engineered, biodegradable porous silicon nanoparticle (pSiNP) in order to deliver bioactive BDNF to injured brain tissue after TBI. The pSiNP carrier is modified with the targeting ligand CAQK, a peptide that binds to extracellular matrix components upregulated after TBI. The protein cargo retains bioactivity after release from the pSiNP carrier, and systemic administration of the CAQK-modified pSiNPs results in effective delivery of the protein cargo to injured brain regions in a mouse model of TBI. When administered after injury, the CAQK-targeted pSiNP delivery system for BDNF reduces lesion volumes compared to free BDNF, supporting the hypothesis that pSiNPs mediate therapeutic protein delivery after systemic administration to improve outcomes in TBI.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic* / drug therapy
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / therapeutic use
  • Extracellular Matrix
  • Ligands
  • Mice
  • Nanoparticles*
  • Peptides / therapeutic use
  • Porosity
  • Silicon


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Ligands
  • Peptides
  • Silicon