The uptake of various graphene-related materials was proven for different cell types.


Several studies have shown that graphene-related materials could be internalized by cells. But the underlying uptake mechanism is not fully understood. It can be assumed, that the uptake mechanism is highly depending on the material property and especially on the size distribution as well as on the respective cell type.

In vitro experiments demonstrated e.g. the uptake of graphene nanoshells by lung epithelial cells [1].

Functionalized graphene can be used as so-called nanocarriers e.g., for drug transport in cancer therapy. Intention of this application is to facilitate the uptake of an active substance-loaded graphene into the target cells and thereby ensuring no toxic side-effects. Presumably uptake occurs via receptor-mediated endocytosis [2].

Schinwald and colleagues showed that due to the size of the respective graphene platelets (approximately 15 µm in diameter) uptake is incomplete which then leads to a so-called "frustrated phagocytosis meaning the cells suffocate on the platelets.

In contrast smaller platelets can be completely phagocytosed [3]. Mouse macrophages displayed intracellular graphene in membrane-bound vesicles [4].
Besides also the type of coating decides on whether the graphene remains stuck on the surface of the cellular membrane as an aggregate or whether it is taken up into the cells [5].


Literature arrow down

  1. Bachmatiuk, A et al. (2013), ACS Nano, 7(12): 10552-10562
  2. Zhang, L et al. (2010), Small, 6(4): 537-544
  3. Schinwald, A et al. (2012), ACS Nano, 6(1): 736-746
  4. Duch, MC et al. (2011), Nano Lett, 11(12): 5201-5207
  5. Sasidharan, A et al. (2011), Nanoscale, 3(6): 2461-2464



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