Nav: Home

X-ray microscopy at BESSY II: Nanoparticles can change cells

February 12, 2020

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.

New insights have come from a study at BESSY II, where Prof. Gerd Schneider's team can take X-ray microscopy images with soft, intensive X-rays. Researchers from the X-ray microscopy group led by HZB biophysicist Dr. James McNally investigated cells with differently coated nanoparticles. The nanoparticles were exactly the same size, but were coated with different active ingredients.

"X-ray microscopy offers significantly better resolution than light microscopy, and a much better overview than electron microscopy," emphasizes Schneider. For the first time, the team obtained complete, three-dimensional, high-resolution images of the nanoparticle-treated cells with the organelles contained therein: including lipid droplets, mitochondria, multivesicular bodies and endosomes. Lipid droplets act as energy stores in the cell, while mitochondria metabolize this energy.

The analysis of the images showed: The nanoparticles accumulate preferentially in a subset of the cell organelles and also change the number of certain organelles at the expense of other organelles. The changes in organelle numbers were similar regardless of the nanoparticle coating, suggesting that many different kinds of nanoparticle coatings may induce a similar effect. To evaluate how general this effect is, further studies with other nanoparticle coatings and with other cell types must be performed.

"X-ray microscopy allows us to see the cell as a whole, so we were able to observe this behavior for the first time," explains McNally. "We found that the absorption of such nanoparticles increases the number of mitochondria and endosomes, while other organelles, namely lipid droplets and multivesicular bodies, decrease," says Burcu Kepsutlu, who carried out the experiments for her doctorate."When we go on a starvation diet or run a marathon, we see similar changes in the cell - namely an increase in mitochondria and a decrease in lipid droplets," says McNally. "Apparently it takes energy for the cell to absorb the nanoparticles, and the cell feels like it has just run a marathon."
-end-


Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie

Related Nanoparticles Articles:

Nanoparticles: Acidic alert
Researchers of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have synthesized nanoparticles that can be induced by a change in pH to release a deadly dose of ionized iron within cells.
3D reconstructions of individual nanoparticles
Want to find out how to design and build materials atom by atom?
Directing nanoparticles straight to tumors
Modern anticancer therapies aim to attack tumor cells while sparing healthy tissue.
Sweet nanoparticles trick kidney
Researchers engineer tiny particles with sugar molecules to prevent side effect in cancer therapy.
A megalibrary of nanoparticles
Using straightforward chemistry and a mix-and-match, modular strategy, researchers have developed a simple approach that could produce over 65,000 different types of complex nanoparticles.
Dialing up the heat on nanoparticles
Rapid progress in the field of metallic nanotechnology is sparking a science revolution that is likely to impact all areas of society, according to professor of physics Ventsislav Valev and his team at the University of Bath in the UK.
Illuminating the world of nanoparticles
Scientists at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) have developed a light-based device that can act as a biosensor, detecting biological substances in materials; for example, harmful pathogens in food samples.
What happens to gold nanoparticles in cells?
Gold nanoparticles, which are supposed to be stable in biological environments, can be degraded inside cells.
Lighting up cardiovascular problems using nanoparticles
A new nanoparticle innovation that detects unstable calcifications that can trigger heart attacks and strokes may allow doctors to pinpoint when plaque on the walls of blood vessels becomes dangerous.
Cutting nanoparticles down to size -- new study
A new technique in chemistry could pave the way for producing uniform nanoparticles for use in drug delivery systems.
More Nanoparticles News and Nanoparticles Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.