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In vivo Comparison of the Biodistribution and Toxicity of InP/ZnS Quantum Dots with Different Surface Modifications

Authors Li L, Chen Y, Xu G, Liu D, Yang Z, Chen T, Wang X, Jiang W, Xue D, Lin G

Received 6 December 2019

Accepted for publication 10 March 2020

Published 20 March 2020 Volume 2020:15 Pages 1951—1965


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Yan Shen

Li Li,1,2 Yajing Chen,1 Gaixia Xu,2,3 Dongmeng Liu,1 Zhiwen Yang,1 Tingting Chen,1 Xiaomei Wang,1 Wenxiao Jiang,1 Dahui Xue,1 Guimiao Lin1

1Base for International Science and Technology Cooperation: Carson Cancer Stem Cell Vaccines R&D Center, Shenzhen Key Laboratory of Synthetic Biology, Department of Physiology, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen 518055, People’s Republic of China; 2Key Laboratory of Optoelectronics Devices and Systems of Ministry of Education/Guangdong Province, College of Optoelectronic Engineering, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen 518060, People’s Republic of China; 3Guangdong Key Laboratory for Biomedical Measurements and Ultrasound Imaging, School of Biomedical Engineering, Health Science Center, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen 518055, People’s Republic of China

Correspondence: Guimiao Lin
School of Basic Medical Sciences, Shenzhen University Health Sciences Center, Shenzhen 518060, People’s Republic of China
Tel/ Fax +86-755-86671903

Introduction: Indium phosphide (InP) quantum dots (QDs) have shown a broad application prospect in the fields of biophotonics and nanomedicine. However, the potential toxicity of InP QDs has not been systematically evaluated. In particular, the effects of different surface modifications on the biodistribution and toxicity of InP QDs are still unknown, which hinders their further developments. The present study aims to investigate the biodistribution and in vivo toxicity of InP/ZnS QDs.
Methods: Three kinds of InP/ZnS QDs with different surface modifications, hQDs (QDs-OH), aQDs (QDs-NH2), and cQDs (QDs-COOH) were intravenously injected into BALB/c mice at the dosage of 2.5 mg/kg BW or 25 mg/kg BW, respectively. Biodistribution of three QDs was determined through cryosection fluorescence microscopy and ICP-MS analysis. The subsequent effects of InP/ZnS QDs on histopathology, hematology and blood biochemistry were evaluated at 1, 3, 7, 14 and 28 days post-injection.
Results: These types of InP/ZnS QDs were rapidly distributed in the major organs of mice, mainly in the liver and spleen, and lasted for 28 days. No abnormal behavior, weight change or organ index were observed during the whole observation period, except that 2 mice died on Day 1 after 25 mg/kg BW hQDs treatment. The results of H&E staining showed that no obvious histopathological abnormalities were observed in the main organs (including heart, liver, spleen, lung, kidney, and brain) of all mice injected with different surface-functionalized QDs. Low concentration exposure of three QDs hardly caused obvious toxicity, while high concentration exposure of the three QDs could cause some changes in hematological parameters or biochemical parameters related to liver function or cardiac function. More attention needs to be paid on cQDs as high-dose exposure of cQDs induced death, acute inflammatory reaction and slight changes in liver function in mice.
Conclusion: The surface modification and exposure dose can influence the biological behavior and in vivo toxicity of QDs. The surface chemistry should be fully considered in the design of InP-based QDs for their biomedical applications.

Keywords: InP/ZnS quantum dots, surface chemistry, in vivo, biodistribution, nanotoxicology

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