Modulatory Role of Surface Coating of Superparamagnetic Iron Oxide Nanoworms in Complement Opsonization and Leukocyte Uptake

Swetha Inturi, Guankui Wang, Fangfang Chen, Nirmal K. Banda, V. Michael Holers, LinPing Wu, Seyed Moein Moghimi, Dmitri Simberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Notwithstanding rapid advances of nanotechnology in diagnostic imaging and drug delivery, the engineered nanocarriers still exhibit substantial lack of hemocompatibility. Thus, when injected systemically, nanoparticles are avidly recognized by blood leukocytes and platelets, but the mechanisms of immune recognition are not well understood and strategies to mitigate these phenomena remain underexplored. Using superparamagnetic dextran iron oxide (SPIO) nanoworms (NWs) we demonstrate an efficient and predominantly complement-dependent uptake by mouse lymphocytes, neutrophils and monocytes from normal and tumor bearing mice in vitro. Following intravenous injection into wild type mice, blood leukocytes as well as platelets became magnetically labeled, while the labeling was decreased by 95% in complement C3-deficient mice. Using blood cells from healthy and cancer patient donors, we demonstrated that neutrophils, monocytes, lymphocytes and eosinophils took up SPIO NWs, and the uptake was prevented by EDTA (a general complement inhibitor) and by antiproperdin antibody (an inhibitor of the alternative pathway of the complement system). Cross-linking and hydrogelation of SPIO NWs surface by epichlorohydrin decreased C3 opsonization in mouse serum, and consequently reduced the uptake by mouse leukocytes by more than 70% in vivo. Remarkably, the cross-linked particles did not show a decrease in C3 opsonization in human serum, but showed a significant decrease (over 60%) of the uptake by human leukocytes. The residual uptake of cross-linked nanoparticles was completely blocked by EDTA. These findings demonstrate species differences in complement-mediated nanoparticle recognition and uptake by leukocytes, and further show that human hemocompatibility could be improved by inhibitors of complement alternative pathway and by nanoparticle surface coating. These results provide important insights into the mechanisms of hemocompatibility of nanomedicines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10758-10768
Number of pages11
JournalACS Nano
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 24 2015


  • alternative pathway
  • complement
  • immunity
  • iron oxide
  • leukocyte
  • leukocytes
  • nanoworms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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