Synthesis and characterization of quantum dots designed for biomedical use

Weronika Kuzyniak, Oluwasesan Adegoke, Kutloano Sekhosana, Sarah D'Souza, Sesethu Charmaine Tshangana, Björn Hoffmann, Eugeny A. Ermilov, Tebello Nyokong, Michael Höpfner (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) have become promising nanoparticles for a wide variety of biomedical applications. However, the major drawback of QDs is their potential toxicity. Here, we determined possible cytotoxic effects of a set of QDs by systematic photophysical evaluation in vitro as well as in vivo. QDs were synthesized by the hydrothermal aqueous route with sizes in the range of 2.0-3.5 nm. Cytotoxic effects of QDs were studied in the human pancreatic carcinoid cell line BON. Cadmium telluride QDs with or without zinc sulfide shell and coated with 3-mercaptopropionic acid (MPA) were highly cytotoxic even at nanomolar concentrations. Capping with l-glutathione (GSH) or thioglycolic acid (TGA) reduced the cytotoxicity of cadmium telluride QDs and cadmium selenide QDs. Determination of the toxicity of QDs revealed IC50 values in the micromolar range. In vivo studies showed good tolerability of CdSe QDs with ZnS shell and GSH capping. We could demonstrate that QDs with ZnS shell and GSH capping exhibit low toxicity and good tolerability in cell models and living organisms. These QDs appear to be promising candidates for biomedical applications such as drug delivery for enhanced chemotherapy or targeted delivery of light sensitive substances for photodynamic therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)382-389
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmaceutics
Issue number1-2
Early online date20 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2014


  • Animals
  • Cadmium Compounds/chemistry
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation/drug effects
  • Cell Survival/drug effects
  • Chick Embryo
  • Chorioallantoic Membrane/metabolism
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Glutathione/chemistry
  • Humans
  • Quantum Dots/chemistry
  • Selenium Compounds/chemistry
  • Sulfides/chemistry
  • Zinc Compounds/chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Synthesis and characterization of quantum dots designed for biomedical use'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this