Investigation of size, surface charge, PEGylation degree and concentration on the cellular uptake of polymer nanoparticles

Raffaele Ferrari, Monica Lupi, Claudio Colombo, Massimo Morbidelli, Maurizio D'Incalci, Davide Moscatelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this work a large number of polymer nanoparticles (NPs) with different features have been synthesized through emulsion polymerization-based methods. Poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), poly-e{open}-caprolactone (PCL), and poly(lactic acid) (PLA) based NPs with different size, hydrophobicity, surface charge, PEGylation degree, type of emulsifier and ζ potential have been produced and characterized. All the different NPs have been adopted for cellular uptake studies, leading to a precise quantification of the number of internalized NPs into a selected tumor cell line. The experiments summarize, emphasize and improve the comprehension of the influence of NPs features on the uptake efficiency. In detail, a linear relationship between uptake and both size and NP concentration independently upon other NP characteristics was found. Moreover, it was confirmed that cells are able to internalize and retain for a long time preferentially positively charged NPs. Finally, by coupling results of uptake studies with cell viability measurements, an easy and fast check to control the effectiveness of a selected polymer as drug carrier has been proposed. In particular, we observed that biodegradable PLA-based NPs with high molecular weight, non-PEGylated and positively charged PCL NPs are the better choice to maximize the uptake and minimize side effect against cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)639-647
Number of pages9
JournalColloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2014


  • Drug delivery
  • Endocytosis
  • Imaging
  • Nanoparticle
  • Polymer
  • Uptake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces and Interfaces


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