Evaluation of In Vivo Toxicity of Biological Nanoparticles

Julia Driscoll, Irene K. Yan, Ramcharan Singh Angom, Anuradha Moirangthem, Tushar Patel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Biologically derived nanoparticles such as extracellular vesicles are promising candidates for therapeutic applications. In vivo toxicity of biological nanoparticles can result in tissue or organ damage, immunological perturbations, or developmental effects but cannot be readily predicted from in vitro studies. Therefore, an essential component of the preclinical assessment of these particles for their use as therapeutics requires screening for adverse effects and detailed characterization of their toxicity in vivo. However, there are no standardized, comprehensive methods to evaluate the toxicity profile of nanoparticle treatment in a preclinical model. Here, we first describe a method to prepare bovine milk-derived nanovesicles (MNVs). These MNVs are inexpensive to isolate, have a scalable production platform, and can be modified to achieve a desired biological effect. We also describe two vertebrate animal models, mice and zebrafish, that can be employed to evaluate the toxicity profile of biologically derived nanoparticles, using MNVs as an example. Treatment-induced organ toxicity and immunological effects can be assessed in mice receiving systemic injections of MNVs, and developmental toxicity can be assessed in zebrafish embryos exposed to MNVs in embryo water. Utilizing these animal models provides opportunities to analyze the toxicity profiles of therapeutic extracellular vesicles in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere249
JournalCurrent Protocols
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • biological nanoparticles
  • developmental toxicity
  • nanotherapeutics
  • safety
  • zebrafish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medical Laboratory Technology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • Health Informatics
  • General Neuroscience
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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