Elucidating the Influences of Size, Surface Chemistry, and Dynamic Flow on Cellular Association of Nanoparticles Made by Polymerization-Induced Self-Assembly

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The size and surface chemistry of nanoparticles dictate their interactions with biological systems. However, it remains unclear how these key physicochemical properties affect the cellular association of nanoparticles under dynamic flow conditions encountered in human vascular networks. Here, the facile synthesis of novel fluorescent nanoparticles with tunable sizes and surface chemistries and their association with primary human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) is reported. First, a one-pot polymerization-induced self-assembly (PISA) methodology is developed to covalently incorporate a commercially available fluorescent dye into the nanoparticle core and tune nanoparticle size and surface chemistry. To characterize cellular association under flow, HUVECs are cultured onto the surface of a synthetic microvascular network embedded in a microfluidic device (SynVivo, INC). Interestingly, increasing the size of carboxylic acid–functionalized nanoparticles leads to higher cellular association under static conditions but lower cellular association under flow conditions, whereas increasing the size of tertiary amine–decorated nanoparticles results in a higher level of cellular association, under both static and flow conditions. These findings provide new insights into the interactions between polymeric nanomaterials and endothelial cells. Altogether, this work establishes innovative methods for the facile synthesis and biological characterization of polymeric nanomaterials for various potential applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1801702
Number of pages13
Issue number34
Publication statusPublished - 23 Aug 2018


  • cellular association
  • dynamic flow
  • PISA
  • size
  • surface chemistry

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