Mechanisms of complement activation by dextran-coated superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO) nanoworms in mouse versus human serum

Nirmal K. Banda, Gaurav Mehta, Ying Chao, Guankui Wang, Swetha Inturi, Liliane Fossati-Jimack, Marina Botto, Lin Ping Wu, Seyed M oein Moghimi, Dmitri Simberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Background: The complement system is a key component of innate immunity implicated in the neutralization and clearance of invading pathogens. Dextran coated superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO) nanoparticle is a promising magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agent. However, dextran SPIO has been associated with significant number of complement-related side effects in patients and some agents have been discontinued from clinical use (e.g., Feridex™). In order to improve the safety of these materials, the mechanisms of complement activation by dextran-coated SPIO and the differences between mice and humans need to be fully understood. Methods: 20 kDa dextran coated SPIO nanoworms (SPIO NW) were synthesized using Molday precipitation procedure. In vitro measurements of C3 deposition on SPIO NW using sera genetically deficient for various components of the classical pathway (CP), lectin pathway (LP) or alternative pathway (AP) components were used to study mechanisms of mouse complement activation. In vitro measurements of fluid phase markers of complement activation C4d and Bb and the terminal pathway marker SC5b-C9 in normal and genetically deficient sera were used to study the mechanisms of human complement activation. Mouse data were analyzed by non-paired t-test, human data were analyzed by ANOVA followed by multiple comparisons with Student-Newman-Keuls test. Results: In mouse sera, SPIO NW triggered the complement activation via the LP, whereas the AP contributes via the amplification loop. No involvement of the CP was observed. In human sera the LP together with the direct enhancement of the AP turnover was responsible for the complement activation. In two samples out of six healthy donors there was also a binding of anti-dextran antibodies and C1q, suggesting activation via the CP, but that did not affect the total level of C3 deposition on the particles. Conclusions: There were important differences and similarities in the complement activation by SPIO NW in mouse versus human sera. Understanding the mechanisms of immune recognition of nanoparticles in mouse and human systems has important preclinical and clinical implications and could help design more efficient and safe nano-formulations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number64
JournalParticle and Fibre Toxicology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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