Self-assembling chitosan/poly-γ-glutamic acid nanoparticles for targeted drug delivery

Zsolt Keresztessy, Magdolna Bodnár, Elizabeth Ber, István Hajdu, Min Zhang, John F. Hartmann, Tamara Minko, János Borbély

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


For the purpose of targeted drug delivery, composite biodegradable nanoparticles were prepared from chitosan and the poly-γ-glutamic acid via an ionotropic gelation process. These stable self-assembled nanoparticles were characterized by dynamic light scattering, transmission electron microscopy, and atomic force microscopy, which demonstrated that the nanosystem consists of spherical particles with a smooth surface both in aqueous environment and in dried state. Toxicity measurements showed that the composition is nontoxic when tested either on cell cultures or in animal feeding experiments. To evaluate the potential of the nanosystem for intracellular drug delivery, the nanoparticles were fluorescently labeled and folic acid was attached as a cancer cell-specific targeting moiety. The ability of the particles to be internalized was tested using confocal microscopic imaging on cultured A2780/AD ovarian cancer cells, which overexpress folate receptors. The quantitative data obtained by digital processing of the intensity of green color of each pixel in the pictures inside the cell boundaries and total intensity of fluorescence inside the cells showed that "targeted" particles internalized into the cells significantly faster and the total accumulation of these particles was substantially higher in the cancer cells when compared with "nontargeted" particles, which may facilitate effective and specific cytoplasmic delivery of anticancer agents loaded into such nanoparticles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)759-765
Number of pages7
JournalColloid and Polymer Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


  • Cellular uptake
  • Chitosan
  • Cytotoxicity
  • In vivo toxicity
  • Nanoparticles
  • PGA
  • Poly-γ-glutamic acid


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