Information about the mechanisms underlying the interactions of nanoparticles with living cells is crucial for their medical application and also provides indications of the putative toxicity of such materials. Here the uptake and intracellular delivery of disc-shaped zeolite L nanocrystals as porous aminosilicates with well-defined crystal structure, uncoated as well as with COOH-, NH2-, polyethyleneglycol (PEG)- and polyallylamine hydrochloride (PAH) surface coatings are reported. HeLa cells are used as a model system to demonstrate the relation between these particles and cancer cells. Interactions are studied in terms of their fates under diverse in vitro cell culture conditions. Differently charged coatings demonstrated dissimilar behavior in terms of agglomeration in media, serum protein adsorption, nanoparticle cytotoxicity and cell internalization. It is also found that functionalized disc-shaped zeolite L particles enter the cancer cells via different, partly not yet characterized, pathways. These in vitro results provide additional insight about low-aspect ratio anisotropic nanoparticle interactions with cancer cells and demonstrate the possibility to manipulate the interactions of nanoparticles and cells by surface coating for the use of nanoparticles in medical applications.
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