Self-Assembled Nanostructured Lipid Systems: Is There a Link between Structure and Cytotoxicity?

Angel Tan, Linda Hong, Joanne D. Du, Ben J. Boyd

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Self-assembly of lipid-based liquid crystalline (LLC) nanoparticles is a formulation art arising from the hydrophilic–lipophilic qualities and the geometric packing of amphiphilic lipid molecules in an aqueous environment. The diversity of commercialized amphiphilic lipids and an increased understanding of the physicochemical factors dictating their membrane curvature has enabled versatile architectural design and engineering of LLC nanoparticles. While these exotic nanostructured materials are hypothesized to form the next generation of smart therapeutics for a broad field of biomedical applications, biological knowledge particularly on the systemic biocompatibility or cytotoxicity of LLC materials remains unclear. Here, an overview on the interactions between LLCs of different internal nanostructures and biological components (including soluble plasma constituents, blood cells, and isolated tissue cell lines) is provided. Factors affecting cell–nanoparticle tolerability such as the type of lipids, type of steric stabilizers, nanoparticle surface charges, and internal nanostructures (or lipid phase behaviors) are elucidated. The mechanisms of cellular uptake and lipid transfer between neighboring membrane domains are also reviewed. A critical analysis of these studies sheds light on future strategies to transform LLC materials into a viable therapeutic entity ideal for internal applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1801223
Number of pages21
JournalAdvanced Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2019


  • cell–nanoparticle interactions
  • drug delivery systems
  • liquid crystalline lipids
  • self-assembled nanostructures
  • tissue cytotoxicity

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