Intracellular trafficking of silicon particles and logic-embedded vectors

Silvia Ferrati, Aaron MacK, Ciro Chiappini, Xuewu Liu, Andrew J. Bean, Mauro Ferrari, Rita E. Serda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Mesoporous silicon particles show great promise for use in drug delivery and imaging applications as carriers for second-stage nanoparticles and higher order particles or therapeutics. Modulation of particle geometry, surface chemistry, and porosity allows silicon particles to be optimized for specific applications such as vascular targeting and avoidance of biological barriers commonly found between the site of drug injection and the final destination. In this study, the intracellular trafficking of unloaded carrier silicon particles and carrier particles loaded with secondary iron oxide nanoparticles was investigated. Following cellular uptake, membrane-encapsulated silicon particles migrated to the perinuclear region of the cell by a microtubule-driven mechanism. Surface charge, shape (spherical and hemispherical) and size (1.6 and 3.2 μm) of the particle did not alter the rate of migration. Maturation of the phagosome was associated with an increase in acidity and acquisition of markers of late endosomes and lysosomes. Cellular uptake of iron oxide nanoparticle-loaded silicon particles resulted in sorting of the particles and trafficking to unique destinations. The silicon carriers remained localized in phagosomes, while the second stage iron oxide nanoparticles were sorted into multi-vesicular bodies that dissociated from the phagosome into novel membrane-bound compartments. Release of iron from the cells may represent exocytosis of iron oxide nanoparticle-loaded vesicles. These results reinforce the concept of multi-functional nanocarriers, in which different particles are able to perform specific tasks, in order to deliver single- or multi-component payloads to specific sub-cellular compartments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1512-1520
Number of pages9
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)


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