Protein corona meets freeze-drying: overcoming the challenges of colloidal stability, toxicity, and opsonin adsorption†
Freeze-drying of nanoparticle suspensions is capable of generating stable nanoformulations with improved storage times and easier transportation. Nonetheless, nanoparticle aggregation is likely induced during freeze-drying, which reduces its redispersibility upon reconstitution and leads to undesirable effects such as non-specific toxicity and impaired efficacy. In this work, bovine serum albumin (BSA) is described as a suitable protectant for silica nanoparticles (SNPs), which result in solid structures with excellent redispersibility and negligible signs of aggregation even when longer storage times are considered. We experimentally demonstrated that massive system aggregation can be prevented when a saturated BSA corona around the nanoparticle is formed before the lyophilization process. Furthermore, the BSA corona is able to suppress non-specific interactions between these nanoparticles and biological systems, as evidenced by the lack of residual cytotoxicity, hemolytic activity and opsonin adsorption. Hence, BSA can be seriously considered for industry as an additive for nanoparticle freeze-drying since it generates solid and redispersible nanoformulations with improved biocompatibility.