UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications


Tuning innate immune activation by surface texturing of polymer microparticles: the role of shape in inflammasome activation

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology

Publication Date


Document Type



Animals; Carrier Proteins; Humans; *Immunity, Innate; Inflammasomes; Interleukin-1; Interleukin-1beta; Macrophages; Membrane Microdomains; Mice; Mice, Knockout; Neutrophils; Particle Size; Phagocytosis; *Polymers; Signal Transduction; Surface Properties


Immunity | Immunology and Infectious Disease


Polymeric microparticles have been widely investigated as platforms for delivery of drugs, vaccines, and imaging contrast agents and are increasingly used in a variety of clinical applications. Microparticles activate the inflammasome complex and induce the processing and secretion of IL-1beta, a key innate immune cytokine. Recent work suggests that although receptors are clearly important for particle phagocytosis, other physical characteristics, especially shape, play an important role in the way microparticles activate cells. We examined the role of particle surface texturing not only on uptake efficiency but also on the subsequent immune cell activation of the inflammasome. Using a method based on emulsion processing of amphiphilic block copolymers, we prepared microparticles with similar overall sizes and surface chemistries but having either smooth or highly microtextured surfaces. In vivo, textured (budding) particles induced more rapid neutrophil recruitment to the injection site. In vitro, budding particles were more readily phagocytosed than smooth particles and induced more lipid raft recruitment to the phagosome. Remarkably, budding particles also induced stronger IL-1beta secretion than smooth particles through activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome. These findings demonstrate a pronounced role of particle surface topography in immune cell activation, suggesting that shape is a major determinant of inflammasome activation.

DOI of Published Version



J Immunol. 2013 Apr 1;190(7):3525-32. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1200492. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)

PubMed ID