Research highlight

Preventing inflammation from sticking around

Nature Nanotechnology

February 24, 2014

Damage to mouse lung tissue caused by inflammation can potentially be avoided by the targeted delivery of drug-loaded nanoparticles, reports a paper published online this week in Nature Nanotechnology. The findings offer possible therapeutic alternatives to treating a range of inflammatory diseases such as acute lung injury or sepsis.

Neutrophils, a type of white blood cell, attend to the site of injury or infection within the body; however, if too many neutrophils are active, they can cause inflammation and tissue damage. Asrar Malik and colleagues created nanoparticles from albumin-a protein found in the blood, thus making them biocompatible-and loaded them with pineatannol, a drug with anti-inflammatory properties. Active neutrophils that had adhered the lining of the lung, rather than the site of injury, internalized the drug-loaded nanoparticles. This enabled neutrophil release and their subsequent migration to the location of infection. The researchers observed that intravenous administration of these nanoparticles prevented persistent lung injury in mice that were showing signs of inflammation, because the nanoparticles de-activated the pro-inflammatory function of neutrophils.

The authors believe that the drug-loaded nanoparticles work with the immune system to protect the body against infection, limiting damage from excessive accumulation of neutrophils, providing a flexible platform for anti-inflammatory therapeutics.

doi: 10.1038/nnano.2014.17

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