Specific nanomaterials found in your everyday consumer and health-care products are known to pass from the bloodstream to the brain via the blood-brain barrier model with ease, greatly depending on the shape and form of the material. This creates potential neurological impacts that researchers suspect could have positive or negative implications on the future of medicinal science.

How Shape and Form Dictates Nanomaterials Ability to Penetrate the Blood-Brain Barrier

In vitro
(Photo: Edward Jenner from Pexels)

Researchers recently found that silver and zinc oxide, metal-based nanomaterials, have the ability to cross in vitro models of the blood-brain barrier since both dissolved ions and particles. Note that this has an adverse effect on the health of astrocyte cells that control the body's neurological responses, according to MedicalXpress.

On the other hand, the researchers strongly believe that the recent discovery has the potential to aid in the design of safer nanomaterials and could open new doors in accessing hard-to-reach locations of the brain to treat brain disease.

The results of the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science highlights how the international team of researchers identified the physiochemical properties of the metallic nanomaterials and how it influences their effectivity in penetrating in vitro models of the blood-brain barrier. This includes the potential levels of toxicity the nanomaterials have in the human brain.

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Understanding Metal-Based Nanomaterials

Researchers found that higher concentrations of silver nanomaterials and zinc oxide with a certain shape can impair cell growth and can cause increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier. This leads to the barrier easily allowing access of the compounds to the brain.

The blood-brain barrier, according to Queensland Brain Institute, plays a critical role in brain health by securing the passage of various substances and foreign molecules into the brain from the blood vessels that surround it.

A blood-brain barrier with impaired integrity can compromise the overall health of the central nervous system. Wherein increased permeability to foreign substances may lead to brain damage and neurotoxicity.

Iseult Lynch, the co-author of the study and a professor of Environmental Nanosciences at the University of Birmingham, says that the team of researchers found that silver and zinc oxide nanomaterials that are widely used in different consumer and health-=care products have the ability to pass through their in vitro blood-brain barrier as particles and dissolve ions.

He adds that the observed variations in shape, size, and chemical composition dramatically influence the nanomaterial's penetration capability through the blood-brain barrier. The discovery is paramount to tailoring medical applications for such nanomaterials, especially for targeted delivery systems, bioimaging, and assessing the risks associated with different types of metal-based nanomaterials.

Zhiling Guo, the co-author and a research fellow at the University of Birmingham says that understanding the behavior of the material past the blood-brain barrier is key to evaluate the neurological effects from the unintentional entry into the brain. Neurotoxicity potential is far greater in some materials than others due to the many different ways their shapes allow them to permeant the barrier and be transported.

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