Nanoparticles for bioapplications: Study of the cytotoxicity of water dispersible CdSe(S) and CdSe(S)/ZnO quantum dots

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Nanomaterials, 2019, 9 (3)
Issue Date:
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© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Semiconductor nanocrystals or quantum dots (QDs) have unique optical and physical properties that make them potential imaging tools in biological and medical applications. However, concerns over the aqueous dispersivity, toxicity to cells, and stability in biological environments may limit the use of QDs in such applications. Here, we report an investigation into the cytotoxicity of aqueously dispersed CdSe(S) and CdSe(S)/ZnO core/shell QDs in the presence of human colorectal carcinoma cells (HCT-116) and a human skin fibroblast cell line (WS1). The cytotoxicity of the precursor solutions used in the synthesis of the CdSe(S) QDs was also determined in the presence of HCT-116 cells. CdSe(S) QDs were found to have a low toxicity at concentrations up to 100 µg/mL, with a decreased cell viability at higher concentrations, indicating a highly dose-dependent response. Meanwhile, CdSe(S)/ZnO core/shell QDs exhibited lower toxicity than uncoated QDs at higher concentrations. Confocal microscopy images of HCT-116 cells after incubation with CdSe(S) and CdSe(S)/ZnO QDs showed that the cells were stable in aqueous concentrations of 100 µg of QDs per mL, with no sign of cell necrosis, confirming the cytotoxicity data.
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