Fluorescence intensity modulation of CdSe/ZnS quantum dots assesses reactive oxygen species during chemotherapy and radiotherapy for cancer cells

Bong H. Lee, Sindhuja Suresh, Andrew Ekpenyong

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Quantum dots (QDs) are semiconductor nanoparticles ranging in size from 2 to 10 nm. QDs are increasingly being developed for biomedical imaging, targeted drug delivery and green energy technology. These have led to much research on QD interactions with various physical, chemical and biological systems. For biological systems, research has focused on the biocompatibility/cytotoxicity of QDs in the context of imaging/therapy. However, there is a paucity of work on how biological systems and bioactive molecules might be used to alter the optoelectronic properties of QDs. Here, it is shown that these properties can be altered by reactive oxygen species (ROS) from chemotherapeutic media and biological cells following controlled changes in cellular activities. Using CdSe/ZnS core-shell QDs, spectroscopic analysis of optically excited QDs with HL60, K562 and T98G cancer cell lines is performed. Our results show statistically significant (P < 0.0001) modulation of the fluorescence emission spectra of the QDs due to the ROS produced by common chemotherapeutic drugs, daunorubicin and doxorubicin and by cells following chemotherapy/radiotherapy. This optical modulation, in addition to assessing ROS generation, will possibly enhance applications of QDs in simultaneous diagnostic imaging and nanoparticle-mediated drug delivery as well as simultaneous ROS assessment and radiosensitization for improved outcomes in cancer treatments. Reactive molecular species produced by biological cells and chemotherapeutic drugs can create electric fields that alter the photophysical properties of QDs, and this can be used for concurrent monitoring of cellular activities, while inducing changes in those cellular activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere201800172
JournalJournal of Biophotonics
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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