Nanostickers for cells: a model study using cell–nanoparticle hybrid aggregates†
We present direct evidence that nanoparticles (NPs) can stick together cells that are inherently non-adhesive. Using cadherin-depleted S180 murine cells lines, which exhibit very low cell–cell adhesion, we show that NPs can assemble dispersed single cells into large cohesive aggregates. The dynamics of aggregation, which is controlled by diffusion and collision, can be described as a second-order kinetic law characterized by a rate of collision that depends on the size, concentration, and surface chemistry of the NPs. We model the cell–cell adhesion induced by the “nanostickers” using a three-state dynamical model, where the NPs are free, adsorbed on the cell membrane or internalized by the cells. We define a “sticking efficiency parameter” to compare NPs and look for the most efficient type of NP. We find that 20 nm carboxylated polystyrene NPs are more efficient nanostickers than 20 nm silica NPs which were reported to induce fast wound healing and to glue soft tissues. Nanostickers, by increasing the cohesion of tissues and tumors, may have important applications for tissue engineering and cancer treatment.