Agarose surface coating influences intracellular accumulation and enhances payload stability of a nano-delivery system

Enrica De Rosa, Ciro Chiappini, Dongmei Fan, Xuewu Liu, Mauro Ferrari, Ennio Tasciotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Purpose: Protein therapeutics often require repeated administrations of drug over a long period of time. Protein instability is a major obstacle to the development of systems for their controlled and sustained release. We describe a surface modification of nanoporous silicon particles (NSP) with an agarose hydrogel matrix that enhances their ability to load and release proteins, influencing intracellular delivery and preserving molecular stability. Methods: We developed and characterized an agarose surface modification of NSP. Stability of the released protein after enzymatic treatment of loaded particles was evaluated with SDS-page and HPLC analysis. FITC-conjugated BSA was chosen as probe protein and intracellular delivery evaluated by fluorescence microscopy. Results: We showed that agarose coating does not affect NSP protein release rate, while fewer digestion products were found in the released solution after all the enzymatic treatments. Confocal images show that the hydrogel coating improves intracellular delivery, specifically within the nucleus, without affecting the internalization process. Conclusions: This modification of porous silicon adds to its tunability, biocompatibility, and biodegradability the ability to preserve protein integrity during delivery without affecting release rates and internalization dynamics. Moreover, it may allow the silicon particles to function as protein carriers that enable control of cell function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1520-1530
Number of pages11
JournalPharmaceutical Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • agarose hydrogel
  • intracellular delivery
  • nanopores
  • porous silicon
  • protein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Biotechnology
  • Pharmacology


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