Three-Dimensional Quantitative Intracellular Visualization of Graphene Oxide Nanoparticles by Tomographic Flow Cytometry

Daniele Pirone, Martina Mugnano, Pasquale Memmolo, Francesco Merola, Giuseppe Cesare Lama, Rachele Castaldo, Lisa Miccio, Vittorio Bianco, Simonetta Grilli, Pietro Ferraro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Interaction of nanoparticles (NPs) with cells is of fundamental importance in biology and biomedical sciences. NPs can be taken up by cells, thus interacting with their intracellular elements, modifying the life cycle pathways, and possibly inducing death. Therefore, there is a great interest in understanding and visualizing the process of cellular uptake itself or even secondary effects, for example, toxicity. Nowadays, no method is reported yet in which 3D imaging of NPs distribution can be achieved for suspended cells in flow-cytometry. Here we show that, by means of label-free tomographic flow-cytometry, it is possible to obtain full 3D quantitative spatial distribution of nanographene oxide (nGO) inside each single flowing cell. This can allow the setting of a class of biomarkers that characterize the 3D spatial intracellular deployment of nGO or other NPs clusters, thus opening the route for quantitative descriptions to discover new insights in the realm of NP-cell interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5958-5966
Number of pages9
JournalNano Letters
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - Jul 28 2021


  • 3D intracellular spatial distribution of nanoparticles
  • cellular uptake
  • nanographene oxide
  • single cell 3D microscopy
  • tomographic flow cytometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering


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