Molybdenum derived from nanomaterials incorporates into molybdenum enzymes and affects their activities in vivo

Mingjing Cao, Rong Cai, Lina Zhao, Mengyu Guo, Liming Wang, Yucai Wang, Lili Zhang, Xiaofeng Wang, Haodong Yao, Chunyu Xie, Yalin Cong, Yong Guan, Xiayu Tao, Yaling Wang, Shaoxin Xu, Ying Liu, Yuliang Zhao, Chunying Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

164 Scopus citations


Many nanoscale biomaterials fail to reach the clinical trial stage due to a poor understanding of the fundamental principles of their in vivo behaviour. Here we describe the transport, transformation and bioavailability of MoS2 nanomaterials through a combination of in vivo experiments and molecular dynamics simulations. We show that after intravenous injection molybdenum is significantly enriched in liver sinusoid and splenic red pulp. This biodistribution is mediated by protein coronas that spontaneously form in the blood, principally with apolipoprotein E. The biotransformation of MoS2 leads to incorporation of molybdenum into molybdenum enzymes, which increases their specific activities in the liver, affecting its metabolism. Our findings reveal that nanomaterials undergo a protein corona-bridged transport–transformation–bioavailability chain in vivo, and suggest that nanomaterials consisting of essential trace elements may be converted into active biological molecules that organisms can exploit. Our results also indicate that the long-term biotransformation of nanomaterials may have an impact on liver metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)708-716
Number of pages9
JournalNature Nanotechnology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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