The effect of the protein corona on the interaction between nanoparticles and lipid bilayers

Desirè Di Silvio, Marco Maccarini, Roger Parker, Alan Mackie, Giovanna Fragneto, Francesca Baldelli Bombelli

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Hypothesis: It is known that nanoparticles (NPs) in a biological fluid are immediately coated by a protein corona (PC), composed of a hard (strongly bounded) and a soft (loosely associated) layers, which represents the real nano-interface interacting with the cellular membrane in vivo. In this regard, supported lipid bilayers (SLB) have extensively been used as relevant model systems for elucidating the interaction between biomembranes and NPs. Herein we show how the presence of a PC on the NP surface changes the interaction between NPs and lipid bilayers with particular care on the effects induced by the NPs on the bilayer structure.

Experiments: In the present work we combined Quartz Crystal Microbalance with Dissipation Monitoring (QCM-D) and Neutron Reflectometry (NR) experimental techniques to elucidate how the NP-membrane interaction is modulated by the presence of proteins in the environment and their effect on the lipid bilayer.

Findings: Our study showed that the NP-membrane interaction is significantly affected by the presence of proteins and in particular we observed an important role of the soft corona in this phenomenon.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)741–750
JournalJournal of Colloid and Interface Science
Early online date29 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2017


  • Supported lipid bilayer
  • Protein corona nanoparticles
  • Quartz crystal microbalance
  • Neutron reflectometry
  • Soft corona
  • Hard corona

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