The growing prevalence of nanotechnology in the fields of biology, medicine, and the pharmaceutical industry is confounded by the relatively small amount of data on the impact of these materials on the immune system. In addition to concerns surrounding the potential toxicity of nanoparticle (NP)-based delivery systems, there is also a demand for a better understanding of the mechanisms governing interactions of NPs with the immune system. Nanoparticles can be tailored to suppress, enhance, or subvert recognition by the immune system. This ‘targeted immunomodulation’ can be achieved by delivery of unmodified particles, or by modifying particles to deliver drugs, proteins/peptides, or genes to a specific site. In order to elicit the desired, beneficial immune response, considerations should be made at every step of the design process: the NP platform itself, ligands, and other modifiers, the delivery route, and the immune cells that will encounter the conjugated NPs can all impact host immune responses.
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Conflict of interest: The authors have declared no conflicts of interest for this article.