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Transport and release of colloidal 3-mercaptopropionic acid-coated CdSe–CdS/ZnS core-multishell quantum dots in human umbilical vein endothelial cells

Authors Fontana JM, Yin H, Chen Y, Florez R, Brismar H, Fu Y

Received 5 July 2017

Accepted for publication 9 September 2017

Published 4 December 2017 Volume 2017:12 Pages 8615—8629


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Thomas Webster

Jacopo M Fontana,1 Huijuan Yin,1 Yun Chen,2 Ricardo Florez,1 Hjalmar Brismar,1 Ying Fu1

1Section of Cellular Biophysics, Department of Applied Physics, Royal Institute of Technology, Science for Life Laboratory, Solna, 2Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine/Clinical Physiology, The Sahlgrenska Academy and University Hospital, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden

Abstract: Colloidal semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) have been extensively researched and developed for biomedical applications, including drug delivery and biosensing assays. Hence, it is pivotal to understand their behavior in terms of intracellular transport and toxicological effects. In this study, we focused on 3-mercaptopropionic acid-coated CdSe-CdS/ZnS core-multishell quantum dots (3MPA-QDs) converted from the as-grown octadecylamine-coated quantum dots (ODA-QDs) and their direct and dynamic interactions with human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). Live cell imaging using confocal fluorescence microscopy showed that 3MPA-QDs first attached to and subsequently aggregated on HUVEC plasma membrane ~25 min after QD deposition. The aggregated QDs started being internalized at ~2 h and reached their highest internalization degree at ~24 h. They were released from HUVECs after ~48 h. During the 48 h period, the HUVECs responded normally to external stimulations, grew, proliferated and wound healed without any perceptible apoptosis. Furthermore, 1) 3MPA-QDs were internalized in newly formed LysoTracker-stained early endosomes; 2) adenosine 5'-triphosphate-induced [Ca2+]i modulation caused a transient decrease in the fluorescence of 3MPA-QDs that were attached to the plasma membrane but a transient increase in the internalized 3MPA-QDs; and 3) fluorescence signal modulations of co-stained LysoTracker and QDs induced by the lysosomotropic agent Gly-Phe-β-naphthylamide were spatially co-localized and temporally synchronized. Our findings suggest that 3MPA-QDs converted from ODA-QDs are a potential nontoxic fluorescent probe for future use in clinical applications. Moreover, the photophysical strategy and techniques reported in this work are easily applicable to study of direct interactions between other nanoparticles and live cells; contributing to awareness and implementation of the safe applications of nanoparticles.

Keywords: colloidal semiconductor quantum dots, human umbilical vein endothelial cell, intracellular labeling, nanotoxicity, adenosine 5'-triphosphate, endosome

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