Understanding the interaction of nanoparticles with proteins and how this interaction modifies the nanoparticles’ surface is crucial before their use for biomedical applications. Since fluorinated materials are emerging as potential imaging probes and delivery vehicles, their interaction with proteins of biological interest must be studied in order to be able to predict their performance in real scenarios. It is known that fluorinated planar surfaces may repel the unspecific adsorption of proteins but little is known regarding the same process on fluorinated nanoparticles due to the scarce examples in the literature. In this context, the aim of this work is to propose a simple and fast methodology to study fluorinated nanoparticle-protein interactions based on interfacial surface tension (IFT) measurements. This technique is particularly interesting for fluorinated nanoparticles due to their increased hydrophobicity. Our study is based on the determination of IFT variations due to the interaction of quantum dots of ca. 5 nm inorganic core/shell diameter coated with fluorinated ligands (QD_F) with several proteins at the oil/water interface. Based on the results, we conclude that the presence of QD_F do not disrupt protein spontaneous film formation at the oil/water interface. Even if at very low concentrations of proteins the film formation in the presence of QD_F shows a slower rate, the final interfacial tension reached is similar to that obtained in the absence of QD_F. The differential behaviour of the studied proteins (bovine serum albumin, fibrinogen and apotransferrin) has been discussed on the basis of the adsorption affinity of each protein towards DCM/water interface and their different sizes. Additionally, it has been clearly demonstrated that the proposed methodology can serve as a complementary technique to other reported direct and indirect methods for the evaluation of nanoparticle-protein interactions at low protein concentrations.
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