Gellan gum-coated gold nanorods: an intracellular nanosystem for bone tissue engineering†
Gold nanorods (AuNRs) have emerged as an exceptional nanotool for a myriad of applications ranging from cancer therapy to tissue engineering. However, their surface modification with biocompatible and stabilizing biomaterials is crucial to allow their use in a biological environment. Herein, low-acyl gellan gum (GG) was used to coat AuNRs surface, taking advantage of its stabilizing, biocompatible and gelling features. The layer-by-layer based strategy implied the successive deposition of poly(acrylic acid), poly(allylamine hydrochloride) and GG, which allowed the formation of a GG hydrogel-like shell with 7 nm thickness around individual AuNRs. Stability studies in a wide range of pH and salt concentrations showed that the polysaccharide coating can prevent AuNRs aggregation. Moreover, a reversible pH-responsive feature of the nanoparticles was observed. Cytocompatibility and osteogenic ability of GG-coated AuNRs were also addressed. After 14 days of culturing within SaOS-2, an osteoblast-like cell line, in vitro studies revealed that AuNRs-GG exhibit no cytotoxicity, were internalized by the cells and localized inside lysosomes. AuNRs-GG combined with osteogenic media enhanced by two fold the mineralization capacity, as compared to cells exposed to osteogenic media alone. The proposed system has shown interesting features for osteogenesis, and further insights might be relevant for drug delivery, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.