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Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2013 Jun;97(12):5545-53. doi: 10.1007/s00253-013-4724-1. Epub 2013 Mar 7.

Apoptosis induced by copper oxide quantum dots in cultured C2C12 cells via caspase 3 and caspase 7: a study on cytotoxicity assessment.

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Department of Animal Science and Biotechnology, Chonbuk National University, Jeonju 561-756, Republic of Korea.


We report herein the synthesis and characterization of copper oxide quantum dots and their cytotoxic impact on mouse C2C12 cells. The utilized CuO quantum dots were prepared by the one-pot wet chemical method using copper acetate and hexamethylenetetramine as precursors. The physicochemical characterization of the synthesized CuO quantum dots was carried out using X-ray diffraction, energy-dispersive X-ray analysis, and transmission electron microscopy. To examine the in vitro cytotoxicity, C2C12 cell lines were treated with different concentrations of as-prepared quantum dots and the viability of cells was analyzed using Cell Counting Kit-8 assay at regular time intervals. The morphology of the treated C2C12 cells was observed under a phase-contrast microscope, whereas the quantification of cell viability was carried out via confocal laser scanning microscopy. To gain insight into the mechanism of cell death, we examined the effect of CuO quantum dots on the candidate genes such as caspases 3 and 7, which are key mediators of apoptotic events. In vitro investigations of the biological effect of CuO quantum dots have shown that it binds genomic DNA, decreases significantly the viability of cells in culture in a concentration (10-20 μg/mL) dependent manner, and inhibits mitochondrial caspases 3 and 7. To sum up, the elucidation of the pathways is to help in understanding CuO quantum dot-induced effects and evaluating CuO quantum dot-related hazards to human health.

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