Complex engineered nanoparticles (CENPs), which have different core and surface components, are being developed for medicinal, pharmaceutical and industrial applications. One of the key challenges for environmental health and safety assessments of CENPs is to identify and quantity their transformations in biological environments. This study reports the effects of in vivo exposure of citrate-coated nanoalumina with different rare isotope labels on each component. This CENP was dosed to the rat and accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) was used to quantify 26Al, 14C, and their ratio in the dosing material and tissue samples. For CENPs detected in the liver, the rare isotope ratio, 14C/26Al, was 87% of the dosing material's ratio. The citrate coating on the nanoalumina in the liver was stable or, if it degraded, its metabolites were incorporated with nearby tissues. However, in brain and bone where little alumina was detected, the rare isotope ratio greatly exceeded that of the dosing material. Therefore, in the animal, citrate dissociated from CENPs and redistributed to brain and bone. Tracking both the core and surface components by AMS presents a new approach for characterizing transformations of CENPs components in biological milieu or environments.

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Published in Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis, v. 97.

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier B.V.

© 2014. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/.

The document available for download is the authors' post-peer-review final draft of the article.

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This work was supported by National Science Foundation to “EAGER: Low-level detection of complex nanomaterials in biological media” [Award Abstract #1249123].