Transcytosis and brain uptake of transferrin-containing nanoparticles by tuning avidity to transferrin receptor
Receptor-mediated transcytosis across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) may be a useful way to transport therapeutics into the brain. Here we report that transferrin (Tf)-containing gold nanoparticles can reach the brain parenchyma from systemic administration in mice through a receptor-mediated transcytosis pathway. This transport is aided by tuning the nanoparticle avidity to Tf receptor (TfR), which is correlated with nanoparticle size and total amount of Tf decorating the nanoparticle surface. Nanoparticles of both 45 nm and 80 nm diameter reach the brain parenchyma, and their accumulation there (visualized by silver enhancement light microscopy in combination with transmission electron microscopy imaging) is observed to be dependent on Tf content (avidity); nanoparticles with large amounts of Tf remain strongly attached to brain endothelial cells, whereas those with less Tf are capable of both interacting with TfR on the luminal side of the BBB and detaching from TfR on the brain side of the BBB. The requirement of proper avidity for nanoparticles to reach the brain parenchyma is consistent with recent behavior observed with transcytosing antibodies that bind to TfR.