Bioconjugation of luminescent silicon quantum dots for selective uptake by cancer cells

Bioconjug Chem. 2011 Jun 15;22(6):1081-8. doi: 10.1021/bc100552p. Epub 2011 May 18.


Conventional quantum dots have great potential in cancer-related imaging and diagnostic applications; however, these applications are limited by concerns about the inherent toxicity of their core materials (e.g., cadmium, lead). Virtually all imaging applications require conjugation of the imaging agent to a biologically active molecule to achieve selective uptake or binding. Here, we report a study of biocompatible silicon quantum dots covalently attached to biomolecules including lysine, folate, antimesothelin, and transferrin. The particles possess desirable physical properties, surface chemistry, and optical properties. Folate- and antimesothelin-conjugated silicon quantum dots show selective uptake into Panc-1 cells. This study contributes to the preclinical evaluation of silicon quantum dots and further demonstrates their potential as an imaging agent for cancer applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Coated Materials, Biocompatible / chemical synthesis
  • Coated Materials, Biocompatible / chemistry
  • Coated Materials, Biocompatible / pharmacokinetics
  • Folic Acid / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Luminescence*
  • Lysine / chemistry
  • Materials Testing
  • Molecular Imaging*
  • Molecular Structure
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Particle Size
  • Quantum Dots*
  • Silicon / chemistry*
  • Silicon / pharmacokinetics*
  • Stereoisomerism
  • Surface Properties
  • Transferrin / chemistry


  • Coated Materials, Biocompatible
  • Transferrin
  • Folic Acid
  • Lysine
  • Silicon