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Surface Functionality of Nanoparticles Determines Cellular Uptake Mechanisms in Mammalian Cells



Nanoparticles (NPs) are versatile scaffolds for numerous biomedical applications including drug delivery and bioimaging. The surface functionality of NPs essentially dictates intracellular NP uptake and controls their therapeutic action. Using several pharmacological inhibitors, it is demonstrated that the cellular uptake mechanisms of cationic gold NPs in both cancer (HeLa) and normal cells (MCF10A) strongly depend on the NP surface monolayer, and mostly involve caveolae and dynamin-dependent pathways as well as specific cell surface receptors (scavenger receptors). Moreover, these NPs show different uptake mechanisms in cancer and normal cells, providing an opportunity to develop NPs with improved selectivity for delivery applications.