Nanoparticles easily enter into cells. New insights about how they are distributed and what they do there are shown for the first time by high-resolution 3D microscopy images from BESSY II.
For example, certain nanoparticles accumulate preferentially in certain organelles of the cell. This can increase the energy costs in the cell. “The cell looks like it has just run a marathon, apparently, the cell requires energy to absorb such nanoparticles” says lead author James McNally.
Today, nanoparticles are not only in cosmetic products, but everywhere, in the air, in water, in the soil and in food. Because they are so tiny, they easily enter into the cells in our body. This is also of interest for medical applications: Nanoparticles coated with active ingredients could be specifically introduced into cells, for example to destroy cancer cells. However, there is still much to be learned about how nanoparticles are distributed in the cells, what they do there, and how these effects depend on their size and coating.
Image: 3D architecture of the cell with different organelles: mitochondria (green), lysosomes (purple), multivesicular bodies (red), endoplasmic reticulum (cream).
Credit: Burcu Kepsutlu/HZB