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Construction of magnetic-carbon-quantum-dots-probe-labeled apoferritin nanocages for bioimaging and targeted therapy

Authors Yao H, Su L, Zeng M, Cao L, Zhao W, Chen C, Du B, Zhou J

Received 8 March 2016

Accepted for publication 25 May 2016

Published 6 September 2016 Volume 2016:11 Pages 4423—4438


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Lei Yang

Hanchun Yao,1,2 Li Su,1 Man Zeng,1 Li Cao,1 Weiwei Zhao,1 Chengqun Chen,3 Bin Du,1,2 Jie Zhou1,2

1School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Zhengzhou University, 2Collaborative Innovation Center of Drug Research and Safety Evaluation, Henan Province, 3Department of Pharmacy, The First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou, People’s Republic of China

Abstract: Carbon dots (CDs) are one of the most highlighted carbon-based materials for biological applications, such as optical imaging nanoprobes, which are used for labeling cells in cancer treatment mainly due to their biocompatibility and unique optical properties. In this study, gadolinium (Gd)-complex-containing CDs were obtained through a one-step microwave method to develop multimodal nanoprobes integrating the advantages of optical and magnetic imaging. The obtained Gd-CDs exhibited highly fluorescent properties with excellent water solubility and biological compatibility. Natural apoferritin (AFn) nanocages, an excellent drug delivery carrier, are hollow in structure, with their pH-dependent, unfolding–refolding process at pH 2.0 and 7.4. The chemotherapeutic drug doxorubicin (DOX) can be highly effective and encapsulated into AFn cavity. A widely used tumor-targeting molecule, folic acid (FA), functionalized the surface of AFn to obtain an active tumor targeting effect on MCF-7 cells and malignant tumors in mice models. In this study, an AFn nanocarrier encapsulating high concentration of DOX labeled with magnetic and fluorescent Gd-CDs probe was developed. Gd-CDs exhibited a unique green photoluminescence and almost no toxicity compared with free GdCl3. Furthermore, Gd-doped CDs significantly increased the circulation time and decreased the toxicity of Gd3+ in in vitro and in vivo magnetic resonance imaging, which demonstrated that the AFn nanocages labeled with Gd-CD compounds could serve as an excellent T1 contrast agent for magnetic resonance imaging. The self-assembling multifunctional Gd-CDs/AFn (DOX)/FA nanoparticles have a great potential for cancer theranostic applications.

Gd-CDs, fluorescence, magnetic, apoferritin nanocages, imaging

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