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Synthesis of ginsenoside Re-based carbon dots applied for bioimaging and effective inhibition of cancer cells

Authors Yao H, Li J, Song Y, Zhao H, Wei Z, Li X, Jin Y, Yang B, Jiang J

Received 3 June 2018

Accepted for publication 27 August 2018

Published 9 October 2018 Volume 2018:13 Pages 6249—6264

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/IJN.S176176

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Alexander Kharlamov

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Linlin Sun


Hua Yao,1,* Jing Li,1,* Yubin Song,2 Hong Zhao,1 Zhenhong Wei,1 Xiuying Li,1 Yongri Jin,3 Bai Yang,2 Jinlan Jiang1

1Scientific Research Center, China-Japan Union Hospital of Jilin University, Changchun, Jilin, P. R. China; 2State Key Laboratory of Supramolecular Structure and Materials, College of Chemistry, Jilin University, Changchun, Jilin, P. R. China; 3College of Chemistry, Jilin University, Changchun, Jilin, P. R. China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Background: Fluorescent carbon-based nanomaterials have promising properties such as biosensing, cell imaging, tracing and drug delivery. However, carbon dots (CDs) with specific inherent biological functions have not been investigated. Ginsenosides are the components with multiple bioactivities found in plants of the genus Panax, which have attracted a lot of attention for their anticancer effect.
Materials and methods: In this study, we prepared a kind of novel photoluminescent CDs from ginsenoside Re by one-step hydrothermal synthesis method. The conventional methods including transmission electron microscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, HPLC and fluorescence spectrum were used for characterization of CDs. In vitro anticancer effect was investigated by cytotoxicity assay, flow cytometry and Western blot analysis.
Results: The as-prepared Re-CDs had an average diameter of 4.6±0.6 nm and excellent luminescent properties. Cellular uptake of Re-CDs was facilitated by their tiny nanosize, with evidence of their bright excitation-dependent fluorescent images. Compared with ginsenoside Re, the Re-CDs showed greater inhibition efficiency of cancer cell proliferation, with lower toxicity to the normal cells. The anticancer activity of Re-CDs was suggested to be associated with the generation of large amount of ROS and the caspase-3 related cell apoptosis.
Conclusion: Hopefully, the dual functional Re-CDs, which could both exhibit bioimaging and anticancer effect, are expected to have great potential in future clinical applications.

Keywords: carbon dots, ginsenoside Re, excitation-dependent fluorescence, cell imaging, anticancer activity

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