Nanomaterials have revolutionized medicine by enabling control over drugs’ pharmacokinetics, biodistribution, and biocompatibility. However, most nanotherapeutic batches are highly heterogeneous, meaning they comprise nanoparticles that vary in size, shape, charge, composition, and ligand functionalization. Similarly, individual nanotherapeutics often have heterogeneously distributed components, ligands, and charges. This review discusses nanotherapeutic heterogeneity's sources and effects on experimental readouts and therapeutic efficacy. Among other topics, it demonstrates that heterogeneity exists in nearly all nanotherapeutic types, examines how nanotherapeutic heterogeneity arises, and discusses how heterogeneity impacts nanomaterials’ in vitro and in vivo behavior. How nanotherapeutic heterogeneity skews experimental readouts and complicates their optimization and clinical translation is also shown. Lastly, strategies for limiting nanotherapeutic heterogeneity are reviewed and recommendations for developing more reproducible and effective nanotherapeutics provided.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2307502
Issue number17
StatePublished - 25 Apr 2024


  • discrete
  • dispersity
  • nanomaterials
  • nanomedicine
  • nanopharmaceutical
  • single particle


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