Long-term exposure of CdTe quantum dots on PC12 cellular activity and the determination of optimum non-toxic concentrations for biological use
Prasad, Babu R.
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Prasad, B. R.,Nikolskaya,N.,Connolly,D.,Smith, T.J>, Byrne,S.J., Gérard,V.A., Gun'ko,Y.K. & Rochev, Y. (2010) Long-term exposure of CdTe quantum dots on PC12 cellular activity and the determination of optimum nontoxic concentrations for biological use. Journal of Nanobiotechnology 8:7.
Background: The unique and tuneable photonic properties of Quantum Dots (QDs) have made them potentially useful tools for imaging biological entities. However, QDs though attractive diagnostic and therapeutic tools, have a major disadvantage due to their inherent cytotoxic nature. The cellular interaction, uptake and resultant toxic influence of CdTe QDs (gelatinised and non-gelatinised Thioglycolic acid (TGA) capped) have been investigated with pheochromocytoma 12 (PC12) cells. In conjunction to their analysis by confocal microscopy, the QD - cell interplay was explored as the QD concentrations were varied over extended (up to 72 hours) co-incubation times. Coupled to this investigation, cell viability, DNA quantification and cell proliferation assays were also performed to compare and contrast the various factors leading to cell stress and ultimately death.Results: Thioglycolic acid (TGA) stabilised CdTe QDs (gel and non - gel) were co-incubated with PC12 cells and investigated as to how their presence influenced cell behaviour and function. Cell morphology was analysed as the QD concentrations were varied over co-incubations up to 72 hours. The QDs were found to be excellent fluorophores, illuminating the cytoplasm of the cells and no deleterious effects were witnessed at concentrations of ~10-9 M. Three assays were utilised to probe how individual cell functions (viability, DNA quantification and proliferation) were affected by the presence of the QDs at various concentrations and incubation times. Cell response was found to not only be concentration dependant but also influenced by the surface environment of the QDs. Gelatine capping on the surface acts as a barrier towards the leaking of toxic atoms, thus reducing the negative impact of the QDs.Conclusion: This study has shown that under the correct conditions, QDs can be routinely used for the imaging of PC12 cells with minimal adverse effects. We have found that PC12 cells are highly susceptible to an increased concentration range of the QDs, while the gelatine coating acts as a barrier towards enhanced toxicity at higher QD concentrations.