Understanding nanoparticle endocytosis to improve targeting strategies in nanomedicine
Nanoparticles (NPs) have attracted considerable attention in various fields, such as cosmetics, the food industry, material design, and nanomedicine. In particular, the fast-moving field of nanomedicine takes advantage of features of NPs for the detection and treatment of different types of cancer, fibrosis, inflammation, arthritis as well as neurodegenerative and gastrointestinal diseases. To this end, a detailed understanding of the NP uptake mechanisms by cells and intracellular localization is essential for safe and efficient therapeutic applications. In the first part of this review, we describe the several endocytic pathways involved in the internalization of NPs and we discuss the impact of the physicochemical properties of NPs on this process. In addition, the potential challenges of using various inhibitors, endocytic markers and genetic approaches to study endocytosis are addressed along with the principal (semi) quantification methods of NP uptake. The second part focuses on synthetic and bio-inspired substances, which can stimulate or decrease the cellular uptake of NPs. This approach could be interesting in nanomedicine where a high accumulation of drugs in the target cells is desirable and clearance by immune cells is to be avoided. This review contributes to an improved understanding of NP endocytic pathways and reveals potential substances, which can be used in nanomedicine to improve NP delivery.