Endocytosis of titanium dioxide nanoparticles in prostate cancer PC-3M cells

Kenneth T. Thurn, Hans Arora, Tatjana Paunesku, Aiguo Wu, Eric M.B. Brown, Caroline Doty, Jeff Kremer, Gayle Woloschak*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

117 Scopus citations


Nanotechnology has introduced many exciting new tools for the treatment of human diseases. One of the obstacles in its application to that end is the lack of a fundamental understanding of the interaction that occurs between nanoparticles and living cells. This report describes the quantitative analysis of the kinetics and endocytic pathways involved in the uptake of anatase titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles into prostate cancer PC-3M cells. The experiments were performed with TiO2 nanoconjugates: 6-nm nanoparticles with surface-conjugated fluorescent Alizarin Red S. Results obtained by flow cytometry, fluorescence microscopy, and inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry confirmed a complex nanoparticle-cell interaction involving a variety of endocytic mechanisms. The results demonstrated that a temperature, concentration, and time-dependent internalization of the TiO2 nanoparticles and nanoconjugates occurred via clathrin-mediated endocytosis, caveolin-mediated endocytosis, and macropinocytosis. From the Clinical Editor: The interaction and uptake of TiO2 nanoparticles (6-nm) with prostate PC-3M cells was investigated and found to undergo temperature, time, and concentration dependent intracellular transport that was mediated through clathrin pits, caveolae, and macropinocytosis. These results suggest that nanoparticles may widely permeate through tissues and enter almost any active cell through a variety of biological mechanisms, posing both interesting opportunity and possible challenges for systemic use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-130
Number of pages8
JournalNanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2011


  • Alizarin Red S
  • Anatase
  • Endocytosis
  • Nanoconjugate
  • TiO2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Pharmaceutical Science

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