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ACS Nano. 2015 Nov 24;9(11):11455-61. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.5b05575. Epub 2015 Oct 16.

Self-Targeting Fluorescent Carbon Dots for Diagnosis of Brain Cancer Cells.

Zheng M1,2,3, Ruan S4, Liu S3, Sun T3,5, Qu D2,5, Zhao H2, Xie Z3, Gao H4, Jing X3, Sun Z2,6.

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Chemistry and Life Science School, Advanced Institute of Materials Science, Changchun University of Technology , 2055 Yanan Street, Changchun, Jilin 130012, People's Republic of China.
State Key Laboratory of Luminescence and Applications, Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics, and Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences , 3888 East Nanhu Road, Changchun, Jilin 130033, People's Republic of China.
State Key Laboratory of Polymer Physics and Chemistry, Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences , 5625 Renmin Street, Changchun, Jilin 130022, People's Republic of China.
Key Laboratory of Drug Targeting and Drug Delivery Systems, West China School of Pharmacy, Sichuan University , No. 17 Block 3, Southern Renmin Road, Chengdu, 610041, People's Republic of China.
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences , Beijing 100049, People's Republic of China.
Beijing Key Laboratory for Green Catalysis and Separation, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Beijing University of Technology , Beijing 100124, People's Republic of China.


A new type of carbon dots (CD-Asp) with targeting function toward brain cancer glioma was synthesized via a straightforward pyrolysis route by using D-glucose and L-aspartic acid as starting materials. The as-prepared CD-Asp exhibits not only excellent biocompatibility and tunable full-color emission, but also significant capability of targeting C6 glioma cells without the aid of any extra targeting molecules. In vivo fluorescence images showed high-contrast biodistribution of CD-Asp 15 min after tail vein injection. A much stronger fluorescent signal was detected in the glioma site than that in normal brain, indicating their ability to freely penetrate the blood-brain barrier and precisely targeting glioma tissue. However, its counterparts, the CDs synthesized from D-glucose (CD-G), L-asparic acid (CD-A), or D-glucose and L-glutamic acid (CD-Glu) have no or low selectivity for glioma. Therefore, CD-Asp could act as a fluorescence imaging and targeting agent for noninvasive glioma diagnosis. This work highlights the potential application of CDs for constructing an intelligent nanomedicine with integration of diagnostic, targeting, and therapeutic functions.


brain cancer glioma; carbon dots; diagnosis; full-color emission; targeted imaging

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