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Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence

Publication Details

DOI: 10.1515/bnm-2013-0011

BioNanoMaterials. 14, 195–216 (2013)


In biological media, nanoparticles acquire a coating of biomolecules (proteins, lipids, polysaccharides) from their surroundings, which reduces their surface energy and confers a biological identity to the particles. This adsorbed layer is the interface between the nanomaterial and living systems and therefore plays a significant role in determining the fate and behaviour of the nanoparticles. This review summarises the state of the art in terms of understanding the bio-nano interface and provides direction for potential future research directions and some recommendations for future priorities and strategies to support the safe implementation of nanotechnologies. The central premise is that nanomaterials must be studied as biological entities under the appropriate exposure conditions and that this should be implemented in study design and reporting for nanosafety assessment. The implications of the bio-nano interface for nanomaterials fate and behaviour are described in light of four interlinked perspectives: the coating concept; the translocation concept; the signalling concept, and the kinetics concept. A key conclusion is that nanoparticles cannot be viewed as non-interacting species, but rather must be thought of, and studied as, biological entities, where their interaction with the environment is mediated by the proteins and other biomolecules that adsorb to them, and the key parameter to characterise then becomes the nature, composition and evolution of the bio-nano interface.