Mechanisms of interaction of quartz and corundum nanocrystals with erythrocyte membranes were studied by means of atomic force microscopy and fluorescence analysis. Hydrophobic, chemically inert nanocrystals larger than a critical size (20-25 nm) can bind to erythrocyte membranes without damaging them. If the size of the nanocrystals is less than 15 nm, they can penetrate into the lipid bilayer membranes. This decreases the membrane microviscosity, and pores appear, which leads to cell lysis. A thermodynamic explication of the critical size of the nanocrystals is given.
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