Uptake and transport of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles through human brain capillary endothelial cells

L. B. Thomsen, T. Linemann, K. M. Pondman, J. Lichota, K. S. Kim, R. J. Pieters, G. M. Visser, T. Moos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


The blood-brain barrier (BBB) formed by brain capillary endothelial cells (BCECs) constitutes a firm physical, chemical, and immunological barrier, making the brain accessible to only a few percent of potential drugs intended for treatment inside the central nervous system. With the purpose of overcoming the restraints of the BBB by allowing the transport of drugs, siRNA, or DNA into the brain, a novel approach is to use superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) as drug carriers. The aim of this study was to investigate the ability of fluorescent SPIONs to pass through human brain microvascular endothelial cells facilitated by an external magnet. The ability of SPIONs to penetrate the barrier was shown to be significantly stronger in the presence of an external magnetic force in an in vitro BBB model. Hence, particles added to the luminal side of the in vitro BBB model were found in astrocytes cocultured at a remote distance on the abluminal side, indicating that particles were transported through the barrier and taken up by astrocytes. Addition of the SPIONs to the culture medium did not negatively affect the viability of the endothelial cells. The magnetic force-mediated dragging of SPIONs through BCECs may denote a novel mechanism for the delivery of drugs to the brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1352-1360
Number of pages9
JournalACS Chemical Neuroscience
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 16 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • TEER
  • astrocytes
  • blood-brain barrier
  • drug delivery
  • endothelial cells
  • in vitro
  • magnetic nanoparticles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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