The effect of saliva on the fate of nanoparticles

Birgit J. Teubl, Biljana Stojkovic, Dominic Docter, Elisabeth Pritz, Gerd Leitinger, Igor Poberaj, Ruth Prassl, Roland H. Stauber, Eleonore Fröhlich, Johannes G. Khinast, Eva Roblegg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: The design of nanocarriers for local drug administration to the lining mucosa requires a sound knowledge of how nanoparticles (NPs) interact with saliva. This contact determines whether NPs agglomerate and become immobile due to size- and interaction-filtering effects or adsorb on the cell surface and are internalized by epithelial cells. The aim of this study was to examine the behavior of NPs in saliva considering physicochemical NP properties. Materials and methods: The salivary pore–size distribution was determined, and the viscosity of the fluid inside of the pores was studied with optical tweezers. Distinct functionalized NPs (20 and 200 nm) were dispersed in saliva and salivary buffers and characterized, and surface-bound MUC5B and MUC7 were analyzed by 1D electrophoresis and immunoblotting. NP mobility was recorded, and cellular uptake studies were performed with TR146 cells. Results: The mode diameter of the salivary mesh pores is 0.7 μm with a peak width of 1.9 μm, and pores are filled with a low-viscosity fluid. The physicochemical properties of the NPs affected the colloidal stability and mobility: compared with non-functionalized particles, which did not agglomerate and showed a cellular uptake rate of 2.8%, functionalized particles were immobilized, which was correlated with agglomeration and increased binding to mucins. Conclusion: The present study showed that the salivary microstructure facilitates NP adsorption. However, NP size and surface functionalization determine the colloidal stability and cellular interactions. Clinical relevance: The sound knowledge of NP interactions with saliva enables the improvement of current treatment strategies for inflammatory oral diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)929-940
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Oral Investigations
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • Biological barrier
  • Mobility
  • Mucoglycoproteins
  • Nanoparticles
  • Saliva

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)


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