Orange-Emitting ZnSe: Mn2+ quantum dots as nanoprobes for macrophages

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The biocompatibility, bionanointeraction, uptake efficiency, and entry pathway of luminescent nanomaterials are the key factors to understand development of an efficient bionanoprobe. The foremost objective of this work is to explore the potential of 3-mercaptopropionic acid (3-MPA) capped ZnSe:xMn2+ (x = 5, 10, and 15 mol %) quantum dots (QDs) for the development of bionanoprobe used in future biological and clinical applications. For this purpose, highly intense orange-emitting activator Mn2+ ion doped ZnSe QDs were synthesized via a high-temperature organometallic method and rendered water-soluble by a ligand exchange approach. The morphological and physicochemical characterizations displayed the ultrasmall zinc-blend cubic crystal structure of QDs with an elliptical shape nanocrystals and average diameter of 4 nm. The luminescent nanomaterials exhibited orange emission centered at 584 nm under excitation at 385 nm. The biocompatibility, time-dependent cellular uptake, and the uptake mechanism of QDs were studied in RAW 264.7 macrophages, accomplished by various cytotoxicity assays, CytoViva hyperspectral enhanced dark-field and dual-mode fluorescence (DMF) microscopy, and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images. The cytotoxicity study did not confirm any noticeable deleterious effect of QDs within incubation for 6 h. The fluorescence images of cells incubated with QDs showed efficient emission, which is a manifestation that QDs are photochemically stable in the intracellular environment. The cellular uptake findings demonstrated that the QDs were predominantly internalized via clathrin- and caveolae-mediated pathways. After the uptake, QDs aggregates appeared inside the vesicles in the cytoplasm, and their number and size gradually increased as a function of time. Nevertheless, the fluorescent QDs presented remarkable colloidal stability in various media, biocompatibility within the designated time, efficient time-dependent uptake, and distinct entry pathway in RAW macrophages, suggesting promising candidates to explore for the development of future bionanoprobes.
Khan ZU., Uchiyama MK., Khan LU., Ramos-Sanchez EM., Reis LC, Nakamura M, et al. Orange-Emitting ZnSe. ACS Appl. Nano. Mater.. 2020 Sept;3(10):10399-10410. doi:10.1021/acsanm.0c02242.
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