Electrostatic interactions control the adsorption of extracellular vesicles onto supported lipid bilayers

Andrea Ridolfi*, Jacopo Cardellini, Fatlinda Gashi, Martijn J C van Herwijnen, Martin Trulsson, José Campos-Terán, Marca H M Wauben, Debora Berti, Tommy Nylander, Joakim Stenhammar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Communication between cells located in different parts of an organism is often mediated by membrane-enveloped nanoparticles, such as extracellular vesicles (EVs). EV binding and cell uptake mechanisms depend on the heterogeneous composition of the EV membrane. From a colloidal perspective, the EV membrane interacts with other biological interfaces via both specific and non-specific interactions, where the latter include long-ranged electrostatic and van der Waals forces, and short-ranged repulsive "steric-hydration" forces. While electrostatic forces are generally exploited in most EV immobilization protocols, the roles played by various colloidal forces in controlling EV adsorption on surfaces have not yet been thoroughly addressed. In the present work, we study the adsorption of EVs onto supported lipid bilayers (SLBs) carrying different surface charge densities using a combination of quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D) and confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM). We demonstrate that EV adsorption onto lipid membranes can be controlled by varying the strength of electrostatic forces and we theoretically describe the observed phenomena within the framework of nonlinear Poisson-Boltzmann theory. Our modelling results confirm the experimental observations and highlight the crucial role played by attractive electrostatics in EV adsorption onto lipid membranes. They furthermore show that simplified theories developed for model lipid systems can be successfully applied to the study of their biological analogues and provide new fundamental insights into EV-membrane interactions with potential use in developing novel EV separation and immobilization strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)883-891
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Colloid and Interface Science
Issue numberPt A
Early online date6 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2023


  • Adhesion
  • Communication
  • Dna
  • Forces
  • Phosphatidylcholine
  • Rupture
  • Surfaces


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