Characterization of nanomedicines’ surface coverage using molecular probes and capillary electrophoresis

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Abstract

A faithful characterization of nanomedicine (NM) is needed for a better understanding of their in vivo outcomes. Size and surface charge are studied with well-established methods. However, other relevant parameters for the understanding of NM behavior in vivo remain largely inaccessible. For instance, the reactive surface of nanomedicines, which are often grafted with macromolecules to decrease their recognition by the immune system, is excluded from a systematic characterization. Yet, it is known that a subtle modification of NMs' surface characteristics (grafting density, molecular architecture and conformation of macromolecules) is at the root of major changes in the presence of biological components. In this work, a method that investigates the steric hindrance properties of the NMs’ surface coverage based on its capacity to exclude or allow adsorption of well-defined proteins was developed based on capillary electrophoresis. A series of proteins with different molecular weights (MW) were used as molecular probes to screen their adsorption behavior on nanoparticles bearing different molecular architectures at their surface. This novel strategy evaluating to some degree a functionality of NMs can bring additional information about their shell property and might allow for a better perception of their behavior in the presence of biological components. The developed method could discriminate nanoparticles with a high surface coverage excluding high MW proteins from nanoparticles with a low surface coverage that allowed high MW proteins to adsorb on their surface. The method has the potential for further standardization and automation for a routine use. It can be applied in quality control of NMs and to investigate interactions between proteins and NM in different situations.

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