The receptor-mediated endocytosis of nonspherical particles

Paolo Decuzzi, M. Ferrari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

241 Scopus citations


Enveloped viruses and nanosized biomimetic particles for drug and gene delivery enter target cells mainly through receptor-mediated endocytosis. A few models have been presented to elucidate the mechanics of particle engulfment by the cell membrane, showing how size and surface chemico-physical properties favor or oppose internalization. In this work, the effect of particle nonsphericity is addressed considering elliptical cylindrical particles with aspect ratio γ. Using a continuum energetic approach, three different conditions have been identified: for sufficiently small γ, the particle is not even wrapped by the cell membrane; for sufficiently large γ, the particle is partially wrapped (''frustrated endocytosis''); and for intermediate values of γ, the particle is fully wrapped and eventually internalized. Given the pleomorphism of viruses and the broad spectrum of shapes for nanosized biomimetic particles, the results presented may be of interest to virologists, pharmacologists, toxicologists, and nanotechnologists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3790-3797
Number of pages8
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics


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