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Open AccessArticle

Biocompatibility and Bioimaging Potential of Fruit-Based Carbon Dots

INL—International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory, 4715-330 Braga, Portugal
CEB—Centre of Biological Engineering, University of Minho, 4720-057 Braga, Portugal
Department of Chemistry, B.S. Abdur Rahman Crescent Institute of Science and Technology, Vandalur, Chennai-600048, India
UCIBIO-REQUIMTE, Laboratory of Toxicology, Biological Sciences Department, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto, Rua de Jorge Viterbo Ferreira, 228, 4050–313 Porto, Portugal
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Nanomaterials 2019, 9(2), 199;
Received: 13 December 2018 / Revised: 31 January 2019 / Accepted: 31 January 2019 / Published: 3 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optical Nanomaterials for Diagnosis and Therapy)
Photo-luminescent carbon dots (CD) have become promising nanomaterials and their synthesis from natural products has attracted attention by the possibility of making the most of affordable, sustainable and, readily-available carbon sources. Here, we report on the synthesis, characterization and bioimaging potential of CDs produced from diverse extensively produced fruits: kiwi, avocado and pear. The in vitro cytotoxicity and anticancer potential of those CDs were assessed by comparing human epithelial cells from normal adult kidney and colorectal adenocarcinoma cells. In vivo toxicity was evaluated using zebrafish embryos given their peculiar embryogenesis, with transparent embryos developing ex-utero, allowing a real-time analysis. In vitro and in vivo experiments revealed that the synthesized CD presented toxicity only at concentrations of ≥1.5 mg mL−1. Kiwi CD exhibited the highest toxicity to both cells lines and zebrafish embryos, presenting lower LD50 values. Interestingly, despite inducing lower cytotoxicity in normal cells than the other CDs, black pepper CDs resulted in higher toxicity in vivo. The bio-distribution of CD in zebrafish embryos upon uptake was investigated using fluorescence microscopy. We observed a higher accumulation of CD in the eye and yolk sac, avocado CD being the ones more retained, indicating their potential usefulness in bio-imaging applications. This study shows the action of fruit-based CDs from kiwi, avocado and pear. However the compounds present in these fruit-based CDs and their mechanism of action as a bioimaging agent need to be further explored. View Full-Text
Keywords: carbon dots; bioimaging; zebrafish embryotoxicity; cytotoxicity; biocompatibility carbon dots; bioimaging; zebrafish embryotoxicity; cytotoxicity; biocompatibility
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MDPI and ACS Style

Dias, C.; Vasimalai, N.; P. Sárria, M.; Pinheiro, I.; Vilas-Boas, V.; Peixoto, J.; Espiña, B. Biocompatibility and Bioimaging Potential of Fruit-Based Carbon Dots. Nanomaterials 2019, 9, 199.

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