Bio-nano interactions: binding proteins, polysaccharides, lipids and nucleic acids onto magnetic nanoparticles

Lucía Abarca-Cabrera, Paula Fraga-García, Sonja Berensmeier

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


The major interest in nanoparticles as an application platform for biotechnology arises from their high surface-to-volume ratio. Iron oxide nanoparticles (IONPs) are particularly appealing due to their superparamagnetic behavior, which enables bioseparation using external magnetic fields. In order to design advanced biomaterials, improve binding capacities and develop innovative processing solutions, a thorough understanding of the factors governing organic-inorganic binding in solution is critical but has not yet been achieved, given the wide variety of chemical and physical influences. This paper offers a critical review of experimental studies of the interactions between low cost IONPs (bare iron oxides, silica-coated or easily-functionalized surfaces) and the main groups of biomolecules: proteins, lipids, nucleic acids and carbohydrates. Special attention is devoted to the driving forces and interdependencies responsible of interactions at the solid-liquid interface, to the unique structural characteristics of each biomolecular class, and to environmental conditions influencing adsorption. Furthermore, studies focusing on mixtures, which are still rare, but absolutely necessary to understand the biocorona, are also included. This review concludes with a discussion of future work needed to fill the gaps in knowledge of bio-nano interactions, seeking to improve nanoparticles’ targeting capabilities in complex systems, and to open the door for multipurpose recognition and bioseparation processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12
JournalBiomaterials Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Adsorption
  • Bio-nano interface
  • Biocorona
  • Biomolecules
  • Bionanotechnology
  • Bioseparation
  • Interaction mechanism
  • Iron oxide nanoparticles


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