Cellular carpet with nanostructures

They can be elastic, stiff or bend only within a certain range – scientists from Bionanopark will check the behavior of endothelial cells. This knowledge may be crucial in planning innovative drug therapies.

Protects and separates

The endothelium is inside the blood vessels. It pads them like a carpet. It is a barrier separating blood from deeper tissues, and the assessment of its function is an important role in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, hypertension and others. It is also the first line of contact of e.g. drugs with our body.

The arterial vessel must constantly expand and contract in order to allow blood flow functioning in a proper way. The elasticity of endothelial cells plays an important role in understanding physiological intercellular processes.

Nanostructures are now the hope of medicine, pharmacology and biotechnology. They can improve drug transfer and penetration into target cells. The project is being carried out in Bionanopark, thanks to which scientists will determine the changes of the elastic properties and morphology of endothelial cells treated with various types of nanostructures. This knowledge will allow to choose the best carrier of prospective drugs. As part of the project, scientists will also assess the impact of nanostructures used in the cosmetics, textile and sport industries, such as nanosilver.

– Firstly, we will culture endothelial cells, which then will be exposed to nanostructures – reports Dr. Agnieszka Kołodziejczyk, project leader. – We will examine how the cells behave after providing them dendrimers, multi walled carbon nanotubes and silver nanoparticles.

See what is invisible to the eye

As a part of the project we will characterize nanostructures using high resolution microscopic techniques, as well as measure their size in suspension.

Nanostructures, although they can be used e.g. as a carrier of drugs, when in excess may also be harmful. That is why scientists study cells viability. They check what concentrations of nanostructures have no effect on them and which ones begin to cause toxic effects.

– In many scientific papers, the relationship between endothelial elasticity and the level of secreted nitric oxide, which is responsible for vasodilation and inhibition of platelet aggregation (prevents the risk of embolism inside blood vessels), is discussed – adds Dr. Kołodziejczyk.

Therefore, the results of elasticity of cells treated with nanostructures will be superimposed with results of the level of nitric oxide synthesis. Whether the cells will be more or less elastic is influenced by a cellular cytoskeleton, which we are able to “sense” using a probe of atomic force microscope.

The cytoskeleton can be compared to the scaffold on which the cell spreads its membrane, just like a tent rests its canvas on a frame. Nanostructures can affect the remodeling of cell cytoskeleton fibers, which will be examined by fluorescence microscopy. Research results contribute to gathering knowledge that will be necessary to develop methods for transporting innovative drugs to diseased tissues.

– Measurements and analysis of the project results are carried out in the Nanomaterial Structural Research Laboratory, which is equipped with modern devices in the field of surface imaging of the samples and measuring their physicochemical properties – emphasizes Dr. Piotr Komorowski, laboratory manager.

The project is funded by the National Science Center, as part of the 26 Sonata competition. Project title: “The influence of selected nanoparticles on the elastic properties of endothelial cells evaluated using atomic force microscopy”, project number UMO-2017/26/D/ST4/00918.