Spontaneous protein adsorption on graphene oxide nanosheets allowing efficient intracellular vaccine protein delivery

Hui Li, Kaat Fierens, Zhiyue Zhang, Nane Vanparijs, Martijn J. Schuijs, Katleen Van Steendam, Natàlia Feiner Gracia, Riet De Rycke, Thomas De Beer, Ans De Beuckelaer, Stefaan De Koker, Dieter Deforce, Lorenzo Albertazzi, Johan Grooten, Bart N. Lambrecht, Bruno G. De Geest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

97 Citations (Scopus)


Nanomaterials hold potential of altering the interaction between therapeutic molecules and target cells or tissues. High aspect ratio nanomaterials in particular have been reported to possess unprecedented properties and are intensively investigated for their interaction with biological systems. Graphene oxide (GOx) is a water-soluble graphene derivative that combines high aspect ratio dimension with functional groups that can be exploited for bioconjugation. Here, we demonstrate that GOx nanosheets can spontaneously adsorb proteins by a combination of interactions. This property is then explored for intracellular protein vaccine delivery, in view of the potential of GOx nanosheets to destabilize lipid membranes such as those of intracellular vesicles. Using a series of in vitro experiments, we show that GOx nanosheet adsorbed proteins are efficiently internalized by dendritic cells (DCs: the most potent class of antigen presenting cells of the immune system) and promote antigen cross-presentation to CD8 T cells. The latter is a hallmark in the induction of potent cellular antigen-specific immune responses against intracellular pathogens and cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1147-1155
Number of pages9
JournalACS Applied Materials & Interfaces
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2016


  • dendritic cells
  • graphene oxide
  • nanosheets
  • protein
  • vaccines


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