Synthetic high-density lipoprotein nanoparticles: Good things in small packages

Robert M. Lavker*, Nihal Kaplan, Kaylin M. McMahon, Andrea E. Calvert, Stephen E. Henrich, Ummiye V. Onay, Kurt Q. Lu, Han Peng, C. Shad Thaxton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Medicine has been a great beneficiary of the nanotechnology revolution. Nanotechnology involves the synthesis of functional materials with at least one size dimension between 1 and 100 nm. Advances in the field have enabled the synthesis of bio-nanoparticles that can interface with physiological systems to modulate fundamental cellular processes. One example of a diverse acting nanoparticle-based therapeutic is synthetic high-density lipoprotein (HDL) nanoparticles (NP), which have great potential for treating diseases of the ocular surface. Our group has developed a spherical HDL NP using a gold nanoparticle core. HDL NPs: (i) closely mimic the physical and chemical features of natural HDLs; (ii) contain apoA-I; (iii) bind with high-affinity to SR-B1, which is the major receptor through which HDL modulates cell cholesterol metabolism and controls the selective uptake of HDL cargo into cells; (iv) are non-toxic to cells and tissues; and (v) can be chemically engineered to display nearly any surface or core composition desired. With respect to the ocular surface, topical application of HDL NPs accelerates re-epithelization of the cornea following wounding, attenuates inflammation resulting from chemical burns and/or other stresses, and effectively delivers microRNAs with biological activity to corneal cells and tissues. HDL NPs will be the foundation of a new class of topical eye drops with great translational potential and exemplify the impact that nanoparticles can have in medicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-26
Number of pages8
JournalOcular Surface
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Chemical burn
  • Cholesterol
  • Cornea
  • Eye drop
  • Inflammation
  • Lipoprotein
  • Nanotechnology
  • Wound healing
  • microRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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