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The effect of surface charge on nonspecific uptake and cytotoxicity of CdSe/ZnS core/shell quantum dots


Tarantola,  M.
Laboratory for Fluid Dynamics, Pattern Formation and Biocomplexity, Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, Max Planck Society;

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Breus, V., Pietuch, A., Tarantola, M., Basche, T., & Janshoff, A. (2015). The effect of surface charge on nonspecific uptake and cytotoxicity of CdSe/ZnS core/shell quantum dots. Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology, 6, 281-292. doi:10.3762/bjnano.6.26.

In this work, cytotoxicity and cellular impedance response was compared for CdSe/ZnS core/shell quantum dots (QDs) with positively charged cysteamine–QDs, negatively charged dihydrolipoic acid–QDs and zwitterionic D-penicillamine–QDs exposed to canine kidney MDCKII cells. Pretreatment of cells with pharmacological inhibitors suggested that the uptake of nanoparticles was largely due to receptor-independent pathways or spontaneous entry for carboxylated and zwitterionic QDs, while for amine-functionalized particles involvement of cholesterol-enriched membrane domains is conceivable. Cysteamine–QDs were found to be the least cytotoxic, while D-penicillamine–QDs reduced the mitochondrial activity of MDCKII by 20–25%. Although the cell vitality appeared unaffected (assessed from the changes in mitochondrial activity using a classical MTS assay after 24 h of exposure), the binding of QDs to the cellular interior and their movement across cytoskeletal filaments (captured and characterized by single-particle tracking), was shown to compromise the integrity of the cytoskeletal and plasma membrane dynamics, as evidenced by electric cell–substrate impedance sensing.