Biofouling is the unwanted adsorption of cells, proteins, or intracellular and extracellular biomolecules that can spontaneously occur on the surface of metal nanocomplexes. It represents a major issue in bioinorganic chemistry because it leads to the creation of a protein corona, which can destabilize a colloidal solution and result in undesired macrophage-driven clearance, consequently causing failed delivery of a targeted drug cargo. Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a bioactive, natural mu-copolysaccharide with excellent antifouling properties, arising from its hydrophilic and polyanionic characteristics in physiological environments which prevent opsonization. In this study, hyaluronate-thiol (HA-SH) (MW 10 kDa) was used to surface-passivate gold nanoparticles (GNPs) synthesized using a citrate reduction method. HA functionalized GNP complexes (HA-GNPs) were characterized using absorption spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, zeta potential, and dynamic light scattering. GNP cellular uptake and potential dose-dependent cytotoxic effects due to treatment were evaluated in vitro in HeLa cells using inductively coupled plasma—optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES) and trypan blue and MTT assays. Further, we quantified the in vivo biodistribution of intratumorally injected HA functionalized GNPs in Lewis Lung carcinoma (LLC) solid tumors grown on the flank of C57BL/6 mice and compared localization and retention with nascent particles. Our results reveal that HA-GNPs show overall greater peritumoral distribution (** p < 0.005, 3 days post-intratumoral injection) than citrate-GNPs with reduced biodistribution in off-target organs. This property represents an advantageous step forward in localized delivery of metal nano-complexes to the infiltrative region of a tumor, which may improve the application of nanomedicine in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1561
Issue number11
StatePublished - Oct 28 2021


  • Biodistribution
  • Cancer
  • Cytotoxicity
  • Gold nanoparticles
  • Hyaluronate-thiol
  • In vitro
  • In vivo
  • Peritumoral

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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