Indexed on: 10 Jul '14Published on: 10 Jul '14Published in: Analytical Chemistry
Assessing in situ nanoparticles (NPs) internalization at the level of a single cell is a difficult but critical task due to their potential use in nanomedicine. One of the main actual challenges is to control the number of internalized NPs per cell. To in situ detect, track, and above all quantify NPs in a single cell, we propose an approach based on a multimodal correlative microscopy (MCM), via the complementarity of three imaging techniques: fluorescence microscopy (FM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and ion beam analysis (IBA). This MCM was performed on single targeted individual primary human foreskin keratinocytes (PHFK) cells cultured and maintained on a specifically designed sample holder, to probe either dye-modified or bare NPs. The data obtained by both FM and IBA on dye-modified NPs were strongly correlated in terms of detection, tracking, and colocalization of fluorescence and metal detection. IBA techniques should therefore open a new field concerning specific studies on bare NPs and their toxicological impact on cells. Complementarity of SEM and IBA analyses provides surface (SEM) and in depth (IBA) information on the cell morphology as well as on the exact localization of the NPs. Finally, IBA not only provides in a single cell the in situ quantification of exogenous elements (NPs) but also that all the other endogenous elements and the subsequent variation of their homeostasis. This unique feature opens further insights in dose-dependent response analyses and adds the perspective of a better understanding of NPs behavior in biological specimens for toxicology or nanomedicine purposes.