Engineered nanomaterials are a broad class of materials with the potential for breakthrough applications in many sectors of society not least in medicine. Consequently, safety assessment of nanomaterials and nano-enabled products with respect to human health and the environment is of key importance. To this end, the biological interactions of nanoscale materials must be understood. Here, the dual "identities" of nanomaterials, namely, the material-intrinsic properties or synthetic identity and the acquired, context-dependent properties or biological identity, are discussed in relation to nanomaterial interactions with the immune system, our main defense against foreign intrusion. Specifically, we address whether macrophages and other innate immune cells respond to the synthetic identity or the biological identity of nanomaterials, that is, the surface adsorbed proteins and/or other biomolecules known as the bio-corona, or both? This article is categorized under: Toxicology and Regulatory Issues in Nanomedicine > Toxicology of Nanomaterials.
Keywords: bio-corona; danger; immune system; molecular patterns; nanomaterials.
© 2022 The Author. WIREs Nanomedicine and Nanobiotechnology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.