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Unveiling the Molecular Structure of Pulmonary Surfactant Corona on Nanoparticles

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The State Key Laboratory of Nonlinear Mechanics (LNM), Institute of Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China
School of Engineering Science, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
§ Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, United States
Department of Pediatrics, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii 96826, United States
Cite this: ACS Nano 2017, 11, 7, 6832–6842
Publication Date (Web):May 25, 2017
Copyright © 2017 American Chemical Society

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    The growing risk of human exposure to airborne nanoparticles (NPs) causes a general concern on the biosafety of nanotechnology. Inhaled NPs can deposit in the deep lung at which they interact with the pulmonary surfactant (PS). Despite the increasing study of nano-bio interactions, detailed molecular mechanisms by which inhaled NPs interact with the natural PS system remain unclear. Using coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulation, we studied the interaction between NPs and the PS system in the alveolar fluid. It was found that regardless of different physicochemical properties, upon contacting the PS, both silver and polystyrene NPs are immediately coated with a biomolecular corona that consists of both lipids and proteins. Structure and molecular conformation of the PS corona depend on the hydrophobicity of the pristine NPs. Quantitative analysis revealed that lipid composition of the corona formed on different NPs is relatively conserved and is similar to that of the bulk phase PS. However, relative abundance of the surfactant-associated proteins, SP-A, SP-B, and SP-C, is notably affected by the hydrophobicity of the NP. The PS corona provides the NPs with a physicochemical barrier against the environment, equalizes the hydrophobicity of the pristine NPs, and may enhance biorecognition of the NPs. These modifications in physicochemical properties may play a crucial role in affecting the biological identity of the NPs and hence alter their subsequent interactions with cells and other biological entities. Our results suggest that all studies of inhalation nanotoxicology or NP-based pulmonary drug delivery should consider the influence of the PS corona.

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    The Supporting Information is available free of charge on the ACS Publications website at DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.7b01873.

    • Supplemental simulation results (PDF)

    • Self-assembly of PS lipids in an aqueous solution (AVI)

    • Self-assembly of PS lipids and proteins in an aqueous solution (AVI)

    • Formation of the PS corona on a Ag-NP (AVI)

    • Formation of the PS corona on a PST-NP (AVI)

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