Interaction of Iron Oxide Nanoparticles with Macrophages Is Influenced Distinctly by "Self" and "Non-Self" Biological Identities

ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2023 Aug 2;15(30):35906-35926.
Yadileiny Portilla, Vladimir Mulens-Arias, Neus Daviu, Alberto Paradela, Sonia Pérez-Yagüe, Domingo F Barber


Upon contact with biological fluids like serum, a protein corona (PC) complex forms on iron oxide nanoparticles (IONPs) in physiological environments and the proteins it contains influence how IONPs act in biological systems. Although the biological identity of PC-IONP complexes has often been studied in vitro and in vivo, there have been inconsistent results due to the differences in the animal of origin, the type of biological fluid, and the physicochemical properties of the IONPs. Here, we identified differences in the PC composition when it was derived from the sera of three species (bovine, murine, or human) and deposited on IONPs with similar core diameters but with different coatings [dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA), dextran (DEX), or 3-aminopropyl triethoxysilane (APS)], and we assessed how these differences influenced their effects on macrophages. We performed a comparative proteomic analysis to identify common proteins from the three sera that adsorb to each IONP coating and the 10 most strongly represented proteins in PCs. We demonstrated that the PC composition is dependent on the origin of the serum rather than the nature of the coating. The PC composition critically affects the interaction of IONPs with macrophages in self- or non-self identity models, influencing the activation and polarization of macrophages. However, such effects were more consistent for DMSA-IONPs. As such, a self biological identity of IONPs promotes the activation and M2 polarization of murine macrophages, while a non-self biological identity favors M1 polarization, producing larger quantities of ROS. In a human context, we observed the opposite effect, whereby a self biological identity of DMSA-IONPs promotes a mixed M1/M2 polarization with an increase in ROS production. Conversely, a non-self biological identity of IONPs provides nanoparticles with a stealthy character as no clear effects on human macrophages were evident. Thus, the biological identity of IONPs profoundly affects their interaction with macrophages, ultimately defining their biological impact on the immune system.

Keywords: human serum; macrophage activation; magnetic nanoparticles; mouse serum; protein corona.

doi: 10.1021/acsami.3c05555.

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