R. Marega, E. A. Prasetyanto, C. Michiels, L. De Cola, D. Bonifazi,
Small, 2016, 12, 5431–5441
Understanding the targeted cellular uptake of nanomaterials is an essential step to engineer and program functional and effective biomedical devices. In this respect, the targeting and ultrafast uptake of zeolite nanocrystals functionalized with Cetuximab antibodies (Ctxb) by cells overexpressing the epidermal growth factor receptor are described here. Biochemical assays show that the cellular uptake of the bioconjugate in the targeted cancer cells already begins 15 min after incubation, at a rate around tenfold faster than that observed in the negative control cells. These findings further show the role of Ctxb exposed at the surfaces of the zeolite nanocrystals in mediating the targeted and rapid cellular uptake. By using temperature and pharmacological inhibitors as modulators of the internalization pathways, the results univocally suggest a dissipative uptake mechanism of these nanomaterials, which seems to occur using different internalization pathways, according to the targeting properties of these nanocrystals. Owing to the ultrafast uptake process, harmless for the cell viability, these results further pave the way for the design of novel theranostic tools based on nanozeolites.