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Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2008 Jun;7(6):725-9. doi: 10.1039/b707920f. Epub 2008 Apr 18.

Examination of the stability of hydrophobic (CdSe)ZnS quantum dots in the digestive tract of rats.

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  • 1Vilnius University Laser Research Center, Sauletekio 9 c3, LT-10222, Vilnius, Lithuania.


Semiconductor quantum dots show promise as alternatives to organic dyes for biological labelling because of their bright and stable photoluminescence. The typical quantum dots is CdSe because colloidal synthesis for nanocrystals of this semiconductor is well established. CdSe is usually passivated with zinc sulfide. While the cytotoxicity of bulk CdSe is well documented, questions about (CdSe)ZnS potential toxicity and behaviour in vivo remain unanswered. The distribution and stability of (CdSe)ZnS quantum dots in Wistar line rats' digestive tract were investigated. Hydrophobic quantum dots were mixed with fat or sonificated in water and administered orally. The distribution and stability of quantum dots moving through the digestive system of rats was followed by fluorescence spectroscopy. In both ways prepared quantum dots were degraded in the digestive tract of animals. Quantum dots mixed with fat were more stable and degraded more slowly than quantum dots sonificated in water. The data obtained suggest possible toxicity of (CdSe)ZnS quantum dots due to the liberation of Cd(2+).

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