AbstractThe adsorption of biomolecules to the surface of nanoparticles (NPs) following administration into biological environments is widely recognized. In particular, the “protein corona” is well understood in terms of formation kinetics and impact upon the biological interactions of NPs. Its presence is an essential consideration in the design of therapeutic NPs. In the present study, the protein coronas of six polymeric nanoparticles of prospective therapeutic use were investigated. These included three colloidal NPs—soft core–multishell (CMS) NPs, plus solid cationic Eudragit RS (EGRS), and anionic ethyl cellulose (EC) nanoparticles—and three nanogels (NGs)—thermoresponsive dendritic-polyglycerol (dPG) nanogels (NGs) and two amino-functionalized dPG-NGs. Following incubation with human plasma, protein coronas were characterized and their biological interactions compared with pristine NPs. All NPs demonstrated protein adsorption and increased hydrodynamic diameters, although the solid EGRS and EC NPs bound notably more protein than the other tested particles. Shifts toward moderately negative surface charges were also observed for all corona bearing NPs, despite varied zeta potentials in their pristine states. While the uptake and cellular adhesion of the colloidal NPs in primary human keratinocytes and human umbilical vein endothelial cells were significantly decreased when bearing the protein corona, no obvious impact was seen in the NGs. By contrast, corona bearing NGs induced marked increases in cytokine release from primary human macrophages not seen with corona bearing colloidal NPs. Despite this, no apparent enhancement to in vitro toxicity was noted. Finally, drug release from EGRS and EC NPs was assessed, where a decrease was seen in the EGRS NPs alone. Together these results provide a direct comparison of the physical and biological impact the protein corona has on NPs of widely varied character and in particular highlights a distinction between the corona’s effects on NGs and colloidal NPs.