Size-dependent endocytosis of nanoparticles

Sulin Zhang, Ju Li, George Lykotrafitis, Gang Bao, Subra Suresh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

886 Scopus citations


A thermodynamic model for receptor-mediated endocytosis of ligand-coated nanoparticles (NPs) was discovered by demonstrating the cellular uptake of ligand-coated NPs. The study also investigated the effects of membrane tension and of the surface concentration of NPs on the cellular uptake. Three regimes were identified and separated by two characteristic particle radii, R min and Rmax. The model predicts an optimal surface concentration beyond which the cellular uptake decreases due to the competition of receptors among NPs. During endocytosis, wrapping of NPs may proceed by insertion of lipids from cytoplasm into highly curved regions rather than by laterally pulling the lipids, which effectively lowers the stretching energy. The results showed that the predicted maximal cellular uptake of NPs is valuable for assessing NP toxicity, the efficiency of NP-based bioimaging and biomakers, and the therapeutic efficacy of NP based drug carriers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-424
Number of pages6
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 26 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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