Human primary macrophages scavenge AuNPs and eliminate it through exosomes. A natural shuttling for nanomaterials

Mariantonia Logozzi, Davide Mizzoni, Beatrice Bocca, Rossella Di Raimo, Francesco Petrucci, Stefano Caimi, Alessandro Alimonti, Mario Falchi, Francesco Cappello, Claudia Campanella, Celeste Caruso Bavisotto, Sabrina David, Fabio Bucchieri, Daniela F. Angelini, Luca Battistini, Stefano Fais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The use of nanomaterials is increasing but the real risk associated with their use in humans has to be defined. In fact, nanomaterials tend to accumulate in organs over a long period of time and are slowly degraded or eliminated by the body. Exosomes are nanovesicles actively shuttle molecules, including chemical products and metals, through the body. Macrophages scavenge the body from both organic and inorganic substances, and they use to release high amounts of exosomes. We hypothesized that macrophages may have a role in eliminating nanomaterials through their exosomes. We treated human primary macrophages with 20 nm gold nanoparticles (AuNPs), analyzing the presence of AuNPs in both cells and the released exosomes by the implementation of different techniques, including SP-ICP-MS and NTA. We showed that macrophages endocytosed AuNPs and released them through exosomes. Our study on one hand provide the evidence for a new methodology in the early identification of the nanomaterials levels in exposed subjects. On the other hand we depict a way our body shuttle virtually intact nanoparticles through macrophage-released exosomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-36
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2019


  • Exosome
  • Nanoparticles
  • Nanotechnology
  • NTA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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