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ZIF-8 Degrades in Cell Media, Serum, and Some—But Not All—Common Laboratory Buffers

submitted on 17.04.2019 and posted on 19.04.2019 by Michael A. Luzuriaga, Candace Benjamin, Michael W. Gaertner, Hamilton Lee, Fabian C. Herbert, Snipta Mallick, Jeremiah J. Gassensmith

The emergence of drug delivery using water stable metal-organic frameworks has elicited a lot of interest in their biocompatibility. However, few studies have been conducted on their stability in common buffers, cell media, and blood proteins. For these studies, single crystal ZIF-8 approximately 1 um in diameter were synthesized, incubated with common laboratory buffers, cell media, and serum, and then characterized by PXRD, IR, DLS, and SEM. Time-resolved SEM and PXRD demonstrate that buffers containing phosphate and bicarbonate alter the appearance and composition of ZIF-8. Further, blood proteins in serum dissolve ZIF-8, causing trapped biomolecules to escape. The study presented here suggests that ZIF-8 can undergo dramatic surface chemistry changes that may affect the interpretation of cellular uptake and cargo release data. On the other hand, it provides a rational explanation as to how ZIF-8 neatly dissolves in vivo.


The National Science Foundation (DMR1654405)

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) (RP170752)

The National Institute of Health (NIAID, 1R21AI140462)

The ACS-PRF (57627-DNI10)

The Welch Foundation (AT-1989-20190330)


Email Address of Submitting Author


The University of Texas at Dallas



ORCID For Submitting Author


Declaration of Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no competing financial interest.