'IntraCell' plugin for assessment of intracellular localization of nano-delivery systems and their targeting to the individual organelles

Hadas Sneh-Edri, David Stepensky

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    14 Scopus citations


    Efficient intracellular targeting of drugs and drug delivery systems (DDSs) is a major challenge that should be overcome to enhance the therapeutic efficiency of biopharmaceuticals and other intracellularly-acting drugs. Studies that quantitatively assess the mechanisms, barriers, and efficiency of intracellular drug delivery are required to determine the therapeutic potential of intracellular targeting of nano-delivery systems. In this study we report development and application of a novel 'IntraCell' plugin for ImageJ that is useful for quantitative assessment of uptake and intracellular localization of the drug/DDS and estimation of targeting efficiency. The developed plugin is based on threshold-based identification of borders of cell and of the individual organelles on confocal images and pixel-by-pixel analysis of fluorescence intensities. We applied the developed 'IntraCell' plugin to investigate uptake and intracellular targeting of novel endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-targeted delivery system based on PLGA nanoparticles decorated with ER-targeting or control peptides and encapsulating antigenic peptide and fluorescent marker. Decoration of the nanoparticles with peptidic residues affected their uptake and intracellular trafficking in HeLa cells, indicating that the targeting peptide was identified as ER-targeting signal by the intracellular trafficking mechanisms in HeLa cells and that these mechanisms can handle nano-DDS of the size comparable to some intracellular vesicles (hundreds of nanometers in diameter).We conclude that decoration of nanoparticles with peptidic residues affects their intracellular localization and trafficking and can be potentially used for intracellularly-targeted drug delivery. 'IntraCell' plugin is an useful tool for quantitative assessment of efficiency of uptake and intracellular drug targeting. In combination with other experimental approaches, it will be useful for the development of intracellularly-targeted formulations with enhanced and controlled drug pharmacological activities, such as delivery of antigenic peptides for anticancer vaccination and for other applications.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)228-233
    Number of pages6
    JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - 11 Feb 2011


    • Confocal image analysis
    • ImageJ plugin
    • Intracellularly-targeted drug delivery
    • Nanoparticle formulations
    • Pixel-based algorithm

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Biophysics
    • Biochemistry
    • Molecular Biology
    • Cell Biology


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