Antifouling Strategies of Nanoparticles for Diagnostic and Therapeutic Application: A Systematic Review of the Literature

Paolo Bevilacqua, Silvia Nuzzo, Enza Torino, Gerolama Condorelli, Marco Salvatore, Anna Maria Grimaldi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Nanoparticles (NPs) are promising platforms for the development of diagnostic and therapeutic tools. One of the main hurdle to their medical application and translation into the clinic is the fact that they accumulate in the spleen and liver due to opsonization and scavenging by the mononuclear phagocyte system. The "protein corona" controls the fate of NPs in vivo and becomes the interface with cells, influencing their physiological response like cellular uptake and targeting efficiency. For these reasons, the surface properties play a pivotal role in fouling and antifouling behavior of particles. Therefore, surface engineering of the nanocarriers is an extremely important issue for the design of useful diagnostic and therapeutic systems. In recent decades, a huge number of studies have proposed and developed different strategies to improve antifouling features and produce NPs as safe and performing as possible. However, it is not always easy to compare the various approaches and understand their advantages and disadvantages in terms of interaction with biological systems. Here, we propose a systematic study of literature with the aim of summarizing current knowledge on promising antifouling coatings to render NPs more biocompatible and performing for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. Thirty-nine studies from 2009 were included and investigated. Our findings have shown that two main classes of non-fouling materials (i.e., pegylated and zwitterionic) are associated with NPs and their applications are discussed here highlighting pitfalls and challenges to develop biocompatible tools for diagnostic and therapeutic uses. In conclusion, although the complexity of biofouling strategies and the field is still young, the collective data selected in this review indicate that a careful tuning of surface moieties is a pivotal step to lead NPs through their future clinical applications.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 18 2021


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