The gastrointestinal uptake of micro- and nanoparticles has been the subject of recent efforts to develop effective carriers that enhance the oral uptake of drugs and vaccines. Here, we used correlative instrumental neutron activation analysis and electron microscopy to quantitatively and qualitatively study the gastrointestinal uptake and subsequent tissue/organ distribution of 4, 10, 28, and 58 nm diameter metallic colloidal gold particles following oral administration to mice. In our quantitative studies we found that colloidal gold uptake is dependent on particle size: smaller particles cross the gastrointestinal tract more readily. Electron microscopic studies showed that particle uptake occurred in the small intestine by persorption through single, degrading enterocytes in the process of being extruded from a villus. To our knowledge this is the first report, at the ultrastructural level, of gastrointestinal uptake of particulates by persorption through holes created by extruding enterocytes.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc. and the American Pharmaceutical Association