Variable nanoparticle-cell adhesion strength regulates cellular uptake

Hongyan Yuan, Ju Li, Gang Bao, Sulin Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

164 Scopus citations


In receptor-mediated endocytosis, cells exercise biochemical control over the mechanics of adhesion to engulf foreign particles, featuring a variable adhesion strength. Here we present a thermodynamic model with which we elucidate that the variable adhesion strength critically governs the cellular uptake, yielding an uptake phase diagram in the space of ligand density and particle size. We identify from the diagram an endocytosed phase with markedly high uptake, encompassed by a lower and an upper phase boundary that are set, respectively, by the enthalpic and entropic limits of the adhesion strength. The phase diagram may provide useful guidance to the rational design of nanoparticle-based therapeutic and diagnostic agents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number138101
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number13
StatePublished - Sep 21 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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