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Transport and release of colloidal 3-mercaptopropionic acid-coated CdSe-CdS/ZnS core-multishell quantum dots in human umbilical vein endothelial cells

Journal article
Authors J. M. Fontana
H. J. Yin
Yun Chen
R. Florez
H. Brismar
Y. Fu
Published in International Journal of Nanomedicine
Volume 12
Pages 8615-8629
ISSN 1178-2013
Publication year 2017
Published at Institute of Medicine, Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine
Pages 8615-8629
Language en
Keywords colloidal semiconductor quantum dots, human umbilical vein endothelial cell, intracellular labeling, cellular uptake, dendritic cells, drug-delivery, in-vivo, toxicity, endocytosis, entry, fluorescence, stress, labels, Science & Technology - Other Topics, Pharmacology & Pharmacy
Subject categories Pharmaceutical Sciences, Pharmacology


Colloidal semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) have been extensively researched and developed for biomedical applications, including drug delivery and biosensing assays. Hence, it is pivotal to understand their behavior in terms of intracellular transport and toxicological effects. In this study, we focused on 3-mercaptopropionic acid-coated CdSe-CdS/ZnS core-multishell quantum dots (3MPA-QDs) converted from the as-grown octadecylamine-coated quantum dots (ODA-QDs) and their direct and dynamic interactions with human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). Live cell imaging using confocal fluorescence microscopy showed that 3MPAQDs first attached to and subsequently aggregated on HUVEC plasma membrane similar to 25 min after QD deposition. The aggregated QDs started being internalized at similar to 2 h and reached their highest internalization degree at similar to 24 h. They were released from HUVECs after similar to 48 h. During the 48 h period, the HUVECs responded normally to external stimulations, grew, proliferated and wound healed without any perceptible apoptosis. Furthermore, 1) 3MPA-QDs were internalized in newly formed LysoTracker-stained early endosomes; 2) adenosine 5'-triphosphateinduced [Ca2+](i) modulation caused a transient decrease in the fluorescence of 3MPA-QDs that were attached to the plasma membrane but a transient increase in the internalized 3MPA-QDs; and 3) fluorescence signal modulations of co-stained LysoTracker and QDs induced by the lysosomotropic agent Gly-Phe-beta-naphthylamide were spatially co-localized and temporally synchronized. Our findings suggest that 3MPA-QDs converted from ODA-QDs are a potential nontoxic fluorescent probe for future use in clinical applications. Moreover, the photophysical strategy and techniques reported in this work are easily applicable to study of direct interactions between other nanoparticles and live cells; contributing to awareness and implementation of the safe applications of nanoparticles.

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