Theranostics 2017; 7(4):962-973. doi:10.7150/thno.19061

Research Paper

Development of Sialic Acid-coated Nanoparticles for Targeting Cancer and Efficient Evasion of the Immune System

Young-Hwa Kim1*, Kyung Hyun Min1*, Zhantong Wang1, Jihoon Kim1, Orit Jacobson1, Peng Huang2, Guizhi Zhu1, Yijing Liu1, Bryant Yung1, Gang Niu1✉, Xiaoyuan Chen1✉

1. Laboratory of Molecular Imaging and Nanomedicine, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, United States.
2. Guangdong Key Laboratory for Biomedical Measurements and Ultrasound Imaging, School of Biomedical Engineering, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen 518060, P. R. China.
*These authors contributed equally to this work.


Evading the reticuloendothelial system (RES) remains a critical challenge in the development of efficient delivery and diagnostic systems for cancer. Sialic acid (N-acetylneuraminic acid, Neu5Ac) is recognized as a “self” marker by major serum protein complement factor H and shows reduced interaction with the innate immune system via sialic acid-binding immunoglobulin-like lectin (Siglec), which is known as one of the significant regulators of phagocytic evasion. Accordingly, we prepared different surface-modified gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) and investigated the effects of sialic acid on cellular and immune responses of nanoparticles in vitro and in vivo. Sialic acid modification not only facilitates evasion of the RES by suppressing the immune response, but also enhances tumor accumulation via its active targeting ability. Therefore, sialic acid modification presents a promising strategy to advance nanotechnology towards the prospect of clinical translation.

Keywords: sialic acid (N-acetylneuraminic acid, Neu5Ac), anti-recognition effect, evading phagocytosis, lectin targeting, molecular imaging, positron emission tomography (PET).

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) License. See for full terms and conditions.
How to cite this article:
Kim YH, Min KH, Wang Z, Kim J, Jacobson O, Huang P, Zhu G, Liu Y, Yung B, Niu G, Chen X. Development of Sialic Acid-coated Nanoparticles for Targeting Cancer and Efficient Evasion of the Immune System. Theranostics 2017; 7(4):962-973. doi:10.7150/thno.19061. Available from