Quantification of nanoparticle uptake by cells using microscopical and analytical techniques

A. Elsaesser, A. Taylor, G. Staats De Yanes, G. McKerr, E- Kim, Eugene O'Hare, V. Howard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)


Quantification of nanoparticles in biological systems (i.e., cells, tissues and organs) is becoming a vital part of nanotoxicological and nanomedical fields. Dose is a key parameter when assessing behavior and any potential risk of nanomaterials. Various techniques for nanoparticle quantification in cells and tissues already exist but will need further development in order to make measurements reliable, reproducible and intercomparable between different techniques. Microscopy allows detection and location of nanoparticles in cells and has been used extensively in recent years to characterize nanoparticles and their pathways in living systems. Besides microscopical techniques (light microscopy and electron microscopy mainly), analytical techniques such as mass spectrometry, an established technique in trace element analysis, have been used in nanoparticle research. Other techniques require 'labeled particles, fluorescently, radioactively or magnetically. However, these techniques lack spatial resolution and subcellular localization is not possible. To date, only electron microscopy offers the resolving power to determine accumulation of nanoparticles in cells due to its ability to image particles individually. So-called super-resolution light microscopy techniques are emerging to provide sufficient resolution on the light microscopy level to image or 'see particles as individual particles. Nevertheless, all microscopy techniques require statistically sound sampling strategies in order to provide quantitative results. Stereology is a well-known sampling technique in various areas and, in combination with electron microscopy, proves highly successful with regard to quantification of nanoparticle uptake by cells. © 2010 Future Medicine Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1447-1457
Number of pages11
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Development


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