The origin of heterogeneous nanoparticle uptake by cells

Paul Rees, John W. Wills, M. Rowan Brown, Claire M. Barnes, Huw D. Summers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Understanding nanoparticle uptake by biological cells is fundamentally important to wide-ranging fields from nanotoxicology to drug delivery. It is now accepted that the arrival of nanoparticles at the cell is an extremely complicated process, shaped by many factors including unique nanoparticle physico-chemical characteristics, protein-particle interactions and subsequent agglomeration, diffusion and sedimentation. Sequentially, the nanoparticle internalisation process itself is also complex, and controlled by multiple aspects of a cell’s state. Despite this multitude of factors, here we demonstrate that the statistical distribution of the nanoparticle dose per endosome is independent of the initial administered dose and exposure duration. Rather, it is the number of nanoparticle containing endosomes that are dependent on these initial dosing conditions. These observations explain the heterogeneity of nanoparticle delivery at the cellular level and allow the derivation of simple, yet powerful probabilistic distributions that accurately predict the nanoparticle dose delivered to individual cells across a population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2341
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'The origin of heterogeneous nanoparticle uptake by cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this