Fluorescently Labeled Cellulose Nanofibers for Environmental Health and Safety Studies

Nanomaterials (Basel). 2021 Apr 15;11(4):1015. doi: 10.3390/nano11041015.


An optimal methodology for locating and tracking cellulose nanofibers (CNFs) in vitro and in vivo is crucial to evaluate the environmental health and safety properties of these nanomaterials. Here, we report the use of a new boron-dipyrromethene (BODIPY) reactive fluorescent probe, meso-DichlorotriazineEthyl BODIPY (mDTEB), tailor-made for labeling CNFs used in simulated or in vivo ingestion exposure studies. Time-correlated single photon counting (TCSPC) fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) was used to confirm covalent attachment and purity of mDTEB-labeled CNFs. The photoluminescence properties of mDTEB-labeled CNFs, characterized using fluorescence spectroscopy, include excellent stability over a wide pH range (pH2 to pH10) and high quantum yield, which provides detection at low (μM) concentrations. FLIM analysis also showed that lignin-like impurities present on the CNF reduce the fluorescence of the mDTEB-labeled CNF, via quenching. Therefore, the chemical composition and the methods of CNF production affect subsequent studies. An in vitro triculture, small intestinal, epithelial model was used to assess the toxicity of ingested mDTEB-labeled CNFs. Zebrafish (Danio rerio) were used to assess in vivo environmental toxicity studies. No cytotoxicity was observed for CNFs, or mDTEB-labeled CNFs, either in the triculture cells or in the zebrafish embryos.

Keywords: cellulose nanomaterials; fluorescence; toxicity; trace labeling.

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