Intrinsically water-stable keratin nanoparticles and their in vivo biodistribution for targeted delivery

Helan Xu, Zhen Shi, Narendra Reddy, Yiqi Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Highly water-stable nanoparticles of around 70 nm and capable of distributing with high uptake in certain organs of mice were developed from feather keratin. Nanoparticles could provide novel veterinary diagnostics and therapeutics to boost efficiency in identification and treatment of livestock diseases to improve protein supply and ensure safety and quality of food. Nanoparticles could penetrate easily into cells and small capillaries, surpass detection of the immune system, and reach targeted organs because of their nanoscale sizes. Proteins with positive and negative charges and hydrophobic domains enable loading of various types of drugs and, hence, are advantageous over synthetic polymers and carbohydrates for drug delivery. In this research, the highly cross-linked keratin was processed into nanoparticles with diameters of 70 nm under mild conditions. Keratin nanoparticles were found supportive to cell growth via an in vitro study and highly stable after stored in physiological environments for up to 7 days. At 4 days after injection, up to 18% of the cells in kidneys and 4% of the cells in liver of mice were penetrated by the keratin nanoparticles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9145-9150
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Issue number37
StatePublished - Sep 17 2014


  • Biodistribution
  • Dissolution
  • In vivo
  • Keratin
  • Nanoparticles
  • Targeted delivery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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