So far, little is known about the interaction of nanoparticles with lung cells, the entering of nanoparticles, and their transport through the blood stream to other organs. The entering and localization of different nanoparticles consisting of differing materials and of different charges were studied in human red blood cells. As these cells do not have any phagocytic receptors on their surface, and no actinmyosin system, we chose them as a model for nonphagocytic cells to study how nanoparticles penetrate cell membranes. We combined different microscopic techniques to visualize fine and nanoparticles in red blood cells: (I) fluorescent particles were analyzed by laser scanning microscopy combined with digital image restoration, (II) gold particles were analyzed by conventional transmission electron microscopy and energy filtering transmission electron microscopy, and (III) titanium dioxide particles were analyzed by energy filtering transmission electron microscopy. By using these differing microscopic techniques we were able to visualize and detect particles < or = 0.2 microm and nanoparticles in red blood cells. We found that the surface charge and the material of the particles did not influence their entering. These results suggest that particles may penetrate the red blood cell membrane by a still unknown mechanism different from phagocytosis and endocytosis.
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