Internalization of Carbon Nano-onions by Hippocampal Cells Preserves Neuronal Circuit Function and Recognition Memory

Massimo Trusel, Michele Baldrighi, Roberto Marotta, Francesca Gatto, Mattia Pesce, Marco Frasconi, Tiziano Catelani, Francesco Papaleo, Pier Paolo Pompa, Raffaella Tonini, Silvia Giordani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


One area where nanomedicine may offer superior performances and efficacy compared to current strategies is in the diagnosis and treatment of central nervous system (CNS) diseases. However, the application of nanomaterials in such complex arenas is still in its infancy and an optimal vector for the therapy of CNS diseases has not been identified. Graphitic carbon nano-onions (CNOs) represent a class of carbon nanomaterials that shows promising potential for biomedical purposes. To probe the possible applications of graphitic CNOs as a platform for therapeutic and diagnostic interventions on CNS diseases, fluorescently labeled CNOs were stereotaxically injected in vivo in mice hippocampus. Their diffusion within brain tissues and their cellular localization were analyzed ex vivo by confocal microscopy, electron microscopy, and correlative light-electron microscopy techniques. The subsequent fluorescent staining of hippocampal cells populations indicates they efficiently internalize the nanomaterial. Furthermore, the inflammatory potential of the CNOs injection was found comparable to sterile vehicle infusion, and it did not result in manifest neurophysiological and behavioral alterations of hippocampal-mediated functions. These results clearly demonstrate that CNOs can interface effectively with several cell types, which encourages further their development as possible brain disease-targeted diagnostics or therapeutics nanocarriers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16952-16963
Number of pages12
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number20
StatePublished - May 23 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • carbon nanomaterials
  • central nervous system
  • confocal imaging
  • electron microscopy
  • fluorescence
  • nanomedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)


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