Unbound Natural Organic Matter Competes with Nanoparticles for Internalization Receptors During Cell Uptake

YT Zhao and S Yan and B Huang and LY Yang and HM Ding and P Wang and AJ Miao, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY, 54, 15215-15224 (2020).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.0c03950

Natural organic matter (NOM) that forms coronas on the surface of engineered nanoparticles (NPs) affects their stability, bio-uptake, and toxicity. After corona formation, a large amount of unbound NOM remains in the environment and their effects on organismal uptake of NPs remain unknown. Here, the effects of unbound NOM on the uptake of polyacrylate- coated hematite NPs (HemNPs) by the protozoan Tetrahymena thermophila were examined. HemNPs were well-dispersed without any detectable NOM adsorption. Kinetics experiments showed that unbound NOM decreased the uptake of HemNPs with greater inhibition at lower concentrations of the particles in the presence of NOM of higher molecular weight. The unbound NOM suppressed clathrin-mediated endocytosis but not the phagocytosis of HemNPs. Confirmation of these events was obtained using label-free hyperspectral stimulated Raman spectroscopy imaging and dissipative particle dynamics simulation. Overall, the present study demonstrates that unbound NOM can compete with HemNPs for internalization receptors on the surface of T. thermophila and inhibit particle uptake, highlighting the need to consider the direct effects of unbound NOM in bioapplication studies and in safety evaluations of NPs.

Return to Publications page