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Microbiol Immunol. 2004;48(9):669-75.

On the cyto-toxicity caused by quantum dots.

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Department of Medical Ecology and Informatics, Research Institute, International Medical Center of Japan, 1-21-1, Toyama, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-8655, Japan.


Quantum dots (QDs) such as CdSe QDs have been introduced as new fluorophores. The QDs conjugated with antibody are starting to be widely used for immunostaining. However there is still not sufficient analysis of the toxicity of QDs in the literature. Therefore we evaluated the cell damage caused by the quantum dots for biological applications. We performed cell viability assay to determine the difference in cell damage depending on the sizes and colors of mercapto-undecanoic acid (MUA) QDs and the cell types. The results showed that the cell viability decreased with increasing concentration of MUA-QDs. But in the case of Vero cell (African green monkey's kidney cell) with red fluorescence QD (QD640), the cell damage was less than for the others. Furthermore through the flow cytometry assay we found that this cell damage caused by MUA-QD turned out to be cell death after 4-6-hr incubation. From the two assays described above, we found that there is a range of concentration of MUA-QDs where the cell viability decreased without cell death occurring and thus we conclude that attention should be given when MUAQDs are applied to living organisms even in low concentrations.

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