Journal of Chinese Pharmaceutical Sciences ›› 2016, Vol. 25 ›› Issue (10): 737-746.DOI: 10.5246/jcps.2016.10.082

• Original articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

A practical method to trace intracellular and transcellular transport pathways of gold nanoparticles via oral administration

Dechun Liu1, Dan Yang1, Bing He2, Wenbing Dai2, Hua Zhang2, Xueqing Wang2, Lan Yuan3*, Qiang Zhang2*, Xing Tang1*   

  1. 1. Department of Pharmaceutics, College of Pharmacy, Shenyang Pharmaceutical University, Shenyang 110016, China
    2. State Key Laboratory of Natural and Biomimetic Drugs, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Peking University Health Science Center, Beijing 100191, China
    3. Medical and Healthy Analytical Center, Peking University Health Science Center, Beijing 100191, China
  • Received:2016-05-16 Revised:2016-06-20 Online:2016-10-27 Published:2016-07-10
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  • Supported by:

    The National Basic Research Program of China (973 program, Grant No. 2015CB932100) and the National Natural Fund Project (Grant No. 91330103).


Oral nanoparticles play an important role in improving the bioavailability of poorly water-soluble drug. It is necessary to investigate the interaction of nanoparticles with intestinal epithelial cells. In general, nano-carriers labeled with fluorescent probes are always chosen. However, fluorescent dye via physical loading may leak in complex biological environment and lose its function to trace the transport behavior of nanoparticles. Fluorescent probes chemically coupled on the nanoparticles may alter the properties of nanoparticles. Therefore, a facile and exact detection method is required to trace intracellular and transcellular pathways of oral nano-medicines. In our study, gold nanoparticles were selected as nano-carriers owing to their unique characteristics of light scattering. The feasibility of gold nanoparticle detection through reflected light signal was tested in different situations, including gold nanoparticle solution, cell and animal level. As a result, high resolution image of gold nanoparticles could be detected through reflection mode by confocal laser scanning microscope (CLSM) when excited at a wavelength of 633 nm. The reflected light signal of gold nanoparticles could be clearly shown in different intestinal epithelial cells no matter when they were in fixed or in living state, and the intracellular trafficking and distribution of gold nanoparticles were clearly shown in three-dimensional image. Meanwhile, this method was also applied to rat small intestine in vivo. In conclusion, we believed that this technique was a convenient and precise way to explore the transport behavior of gold nanoparticles via oral administration without fluorescent dye.    

Key words: Gold nanoparticles, Reflected light signal, CLSM, Oral administration, Intracellular and transcellular pathways, In vivo

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