Yue Hui, David Wibowo, Anton P. J. Middelberg and Chun-Xia Zhao*


Building 75, the University of Queensland, St Lucia;
Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology;
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia


Over the past decades, a myriad of nanomaterials have been developed for biomedical applications including bio-imaging and drug delivery. To better understand and predict their biological performance, the effects of their physicochemical properties (e.g., size, charge and surface chemistry) on cellular interactions and in vivo circulation have been extensively explored, providing valuable insight into the design of next-generation nanomaterials. Another equally important yet often overlooked character, the stiffness of nanomaterials, has recently been recognized to affect and even control their biological fates including vascular circulation and cellular interactions, while a better understanding upon this is still lacking.1 In this work, we synthesized oil-filled silica nanocapsules (SNCs) having a diameter of around 150 nm and controllable stiffness, and investigated the impact of their stiffness on both non-specific and receptor-mediated cellular interactions. Compared with soft SNCs, stiff SNCs displayed higher uptake in both macrophage and folate receptor-mediated tumor cell internalization, while no significant difference was observed between their non-specific tumor cell uptake. Moreover, although the stiff SNCs showed a higher cellular binding than that of the soft SNCs, they tended to accumulate at the periphery of tumor spheroids, which might be a result of compromised diffusion. Our results indicate the existence of an optimal stiffness to balance non-specific macrophage clearance with receptor-mediated cellular internalization, which may guide the design of new nanomaterials that link chemistry, mechanics and biology for enhanced nanomedicine.


1. A. C. Anselmo, S. Mitragotri, Impact of particle elasticity on particle-based drug delivery systems, Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, 2017, 108, 51.


Biographic Details

Name: Yue Hui;

Title: Mr;

Affiliation, Country: The University of Queensland, Australia;

Phone: +61 424137122;                      E-mail: yue.hui@uq.net.au;

Research interests: Biomineralization, nanoemulsion, peptide surfactant, nanoparticle mechanical properties, colloidal drug delivery system.