Atomic Force Microscopy Images Label-Free, Drug Encapsulated Nanoparticles In Vivo and Detects Difference in Tissue Mechanical Properties of Treated and Untreated: A Tip for Nanotoxicology

Dimitrios Lamprou, Vinod Venkatapurwar, M N V Ravi Kumar

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Overcoming the intractable challenge of imaging of label-free, drug encapsulated nanoparticles in tissues in vivo would directly address associated regulatory concerns over 'nanotoxicology'. Here we demonstrate the utility of Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) for visualising label-free, drug encapsulated polyester particles of ~280 nm distributed within tissues following their intravenous or peroral administration to rodents. A surprising phenomenon, in which the tissues' mechanical stiffness was directly measured (also by AFM) and related to the number of embedded nanoparticles, was utilised to generate quantitative data sets for nanoparticles localisation. By coupling the normal determination of a drug's pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics with post-sacrifice measurement of nanoparticle localisation and number, we present for the first time an experimental design in which a single in vivo study relates the PK/PD of a nanomedicine to its toxicokinetics.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere64490
Number of pages5
JournalPLOS One
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2013



  • atomic force microscopy
  • nanoparicles
  • nanotoxicology
  • tissue properties

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