Anisotropic Ligand Nanogeometry Modulates the Adhesion and Polarization State of Macrophages

Heemin Kang, Siu Hong Dexter Wong, Qi Pan, Gang Li, Liming Bian

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Material implants trigger host reactions generated by cells, such as macrophages, which display dynamic adhesion and polarization including M1 inflammatory state and M2 anti-inflammatory state. Creating materials that enable diverse nanoscale display of integrin-binding groups, such as RGD ligand, can unravel nanoscale recruitment and ligation of integrin, which modulate cellular adhesion and activation. Here, we synthesized gold nanorods (GNRs) with various nanoscale anisotropies (i.e., aspect ratios, ARs), but in similar surface areas, and controlled their substrate conjugation to display an anisotropic ligand nanogeometry without modulating ligand density. Using nanoscale immunolabeling, we demonstrated that highly anisotropic ligand-coated GNRs ("AR4" and "AR7") facilitated the recruitment of integrin β1 on macrophages to their nanoscale surfaces. Consequently, highly anisotropic GNRs (e.g., "AR4" and "AR7") elevated the adhesion and M2 state of macrophages, with the inhibition of their M1 state in the culture and mice, entailing rho-associated protein kinase. This nanoscale anisotropic nanogeometry provides a novel and critical parameter to be considered in the generation of biomaterials to potentially modulate host reactions to the implants for immunomodulatory tissue regeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1963-1975
Number of pages13
JournalNano Letters
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2019


  • anisotropic nanogeometry
  • integrin recruitment
  • macrophage adhesion
  • macrophage polarization
  • nanoscale immunolabeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering


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