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Fluorescent Nanoparticles with Tissue-Dependent Affinity for Live Zebrafish Imaging

Khajuria, Deepak Kumar, Kumar, Vijay Bhooshan, Karasik, David, Gedanken, Aharon
ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 2017 v.9 no.22 pp. 18557-18565
Danio rerio, biocompatibility, biological control agents, carbon quantum dots, eyes, fluorescence, image analysis, intestines, larvae, lipoproteins, metabolism, models, photostability, synthesis, tail, toxicity, water solubility, yolk sac
Carbon quantum dots (CDs) are widely investigated because of their low toxicity, outstanding water solubility, and high biocompatibility. Specifically, fluorescent CDs have attracted ever-increasing interest. However, so far, only a few studies have focused on assessing the fluorescence of nitrogen-doped CDs (N@CDs) during in vivo exposure. Here, we describe a strategy for low-cost, one-pot synthesis of N@CDs. The low toxicity and suitability of the N@CDs for fluorescence imaging are validated using zebrafish (ZF) as a model. Strong fluorescence emission from ZF embryos and larvae confirms the distribution of N@CDs in ZF. The retention of N@CDs is very stable, long lasting, and with no detectable toxicity. The presence of a strong fluorescence at the yolk sac, especially in the vicinity of the intestine, suggests that a high content of N@CDs entered the digestive system. This indicates that N@CDs may have potential imaging applications in elucidating different aspects of lipoprotein and nutritional biology, in a ZF yolk lipid transport and metabolism model. On the other hand, the presence of a strong selective fluorescence at the eyes and melanophore strips at the trunk and tail region of ZF larvae suggests that N@CDs has a high melanin-binding affinity. These observations support a novel and revolutionary use of N@CDs as highly specific bioagents for eye and skin imaging and diagnosis of defects in them. N@CDs are known for their multifunctional applications as highly specific bioagents for various biomedical applications because of their exceptional biocompatibility, photostability, and selective affinity. These characteristics were validated in the developmental ZF model.