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Portrait of Tommy Cedervall; Photo: Kennet Ruona

Tommy Cedervall

Associate Professor, Coordinator Nanosafety

Portrait of Tommy Cedervall; Photo: Kennet Ruona

Analysis of complexes formed by small gold nanoparticles in low concentration in cell culture media


  • Stefán B. Gunnarsson
  • Katja Bernfur
  • Ulrica Englund-Johansson
  • Fredrik Johansson
  • Tommy Cedervall

Summary, in English

New nanomaterials are constantly developed with applications in everything from cosmetics to high tech electronics. Assessing their biological impact has been done by analysis of their adsorbed protein corona, in vitro cell assays, and larger scale ecotoxicological studies. This has proved to be a huge challenge due to the wide range of available nanomaterials and their unpredictable behaviour in different environments. Furthermore, the enormous number of experimental variables make comparisons difficult. Concentration is one of these variables and can vary greatly depending on the aim of the study. When analysing the protein corona, concentrations are often higher than in cell assays. Using a combination of complementary techniques, we have characterised 20 nm gold nanoparticles in a concentration level commonly used in cell studies. We compare their behaviour in a commonly used, protein rich medium and one protein poor medium over 24 hours. Under these conditions, the NPs were stable in protein rich environment but underwent gradual aggregation in protein poor medium. We characterise the biomolecular corona in both media. In protein poor medium, we can describe the often overlooked aggregation. The aggregates' morphology is confirmed by cryo-TEM. Finally, in the protein poor medium, by infrared spectroscopy, we have identified the amino acid arginine in the biomolecular corona which drives the aggregation.


  • Biochemistry and Structural Biology
  • NanoLund: Center for Nanoscience
  • Nanostructures in neural systems
  • Functional zoology

Publishing year










Document type

Journal article


Public Library of Science (PLoS)


  • Biophysics
  • Medical Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology



Research group

  • Nanostructures in neural systems


  • ISSN: 1932-6203