Improving cell penetration of gold nanorods by using an amphipathic arginine rich peptide

Ana L. Riveros, Cynthia Eggeling, Sebastián Riquelme, Carolina Adura, Carmen López-Iglesias, Fanny Guzmán, Eyleen Araya, Mario Almada, Josué Juárez, Miguel A. Valdez, Ignacio A. Fuentevilla, Olga López, Marcelo J. Kogan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Introduction: Gold nanorods are highly reactive, have a large surface-to-volume ratio, and can be functionalized with biomolecules. Gold nanorods can absorb infrared electromagnetic radiation, which is subsequently dispersed as local heat. Gold nanoparticles can be used as powerful tools for the diagnosis and therapy of different diseases. To improve the biological barrier permeation of nanoparticles with low cytotoxicity, in this study, we conjugated gold nanorods with cell-penetrating peptides (oligoarginines) and with the amphipathic peptide CLPFFD. Methods: We studied the interaction of the functionalized gold nanorods with biological membrane models (liposomes) by dynamic light scattering, transmission electron microscopy and the Langmuir balance. Furthermore, we evaluated the effects on cell viability and permeability with an MTS assay and TEM. Results and Discussion: The interaction study by DLS, the Langmuir balance and cryo-TEM support that GNR-Arg7 CLPFFD enhances the interactions between GNRs and biological membranes. In addition, cells treated with GNR-Arg7 CLPFFD internalized 80% more nanoparticles than cells treated with GNR alone and did not induce cell damage. Conclusion: Our results indicate that incorporation of an amphipathic sequence into oligoarginines for the functionalization of gold nanorods enhances biological membrane nanoparticle interactions and nanoparticle cell permeability with respect to nanorods functionalized with oligoarginine. Overall, functionalized gold nanorods with amphipathic arginine rich peptides might be candidates for improving drug delivery by facilitating biological barrier permeation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1837-1851
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Nanomedicine
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by Fondecyt Postdoctoral 3130654; FONDAP 15130011; Fondecyt 1170929, Fondecyt 1190623, Nucleo UNAB 36/18N, CONACYT/CONICYT (México) 204393; CONICYT/CONACYT (Chile), and Fondequip EQM170111.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Riveros et al.


  • Amphipathic arginine rich peptide
  • Biological barrier permeation
  • Cell-penetrating peptides
  • Gold nanorods
  • Liposome


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