Metal Nanoparticles as Targeted Carriers Circumventing the Blood–Brain Barrier

A. C. Sintov, C. Velasco-Aguirre, E. Gallardo-Toledo, E. Araya, M. J. Kogan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Metal nanoparticles have been proposed as a carrier and a therapeutic agent in biomedical field because of their unique physiochemical properties. Due to these physicochemical properties, they can be used in different fields of biomedicine. In relation to this, plasmonic nanoparticles can be used for detection and photothermal destruction of tumor cells or toxic protein aggregates, and magnetic iron nanoparticles can be used for imaging and for hyperthermia of tumor cells. In addition, both therapy and imaging can be combined in one nanoparticle system, in a process called theranostics. Metal nanoparticles can be synthesized to modulate their size and shape, and conjugated with different ligands, which allow their application in drug delivery, diagnostics, and treatment of central nervous system diseases. This review is focused on the potential applications of metal nanoparticles and their capability to circumvent the blood–brain barrier (BBB). Although many articles have demonstrated delivery of metal nanoparticles to the brain by crossing the BBB after systemic administration, the percentage of the injected dose that reaches this organ is low in comparison to others, especially the liver and spleen. In connection with this drawback, we elaborate the architecture of the BBB and review possible mechanisms to cross this barrier by engineered nanoparticles. The potential uses of metal nanoparticles for treatment of disorders as well as related neurotoxicological considerations are also discussed. Finally, we bring up for discussion a direct and relatively simpler solution to the problem. We discuss this in detail after having proposed the use of the intranasal administration route as a way to circumvent the BBB. This route has not been extensively studied yet for metal nanoparticles, although it could be used as a research tool for mechanistic understanding and toxicity as well as an added value for medical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNanotechnology and the Brain, 2016
EditorsKhuloud T. Al-Jamal
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Number of pages29
ISBN (Print)9780128046364
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016

Publication series

NameInternational Review of Neurobiology
ISSN (Print)0074-7742
ISSN (Electronic)2162-5514


  • Gold nanoparticles
  • Intranasal route
  • Magnetic nanoparticles
  • Transcytosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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