In vivo Study of Chalcone Loaded Carbon Dots for Enhancement of Anticancer and Bioimaging Potencies

Nanotheranostics. 2023 Mar 12;7(3):281-298. doi: 10.7150/ntno.80030. eCollection 2023.


The fluorescent imaging and drug delivery utilizing carbon dots nanomaterials (CDs) have attracted tremendously due to their unique optical ability and outstanding biocompatibility. Herein, we reported a new design of chalcone-loaded carbon dots (Chalcone-APBA-CDs) to serve chalcone transport onto cancer cells and enhance the CDs bioimaging and antitumor activity. The boronic acid was directly introduced to carbon dots (CDs) via pyrolysis process to drive CDs specifically to the cancer cell, and chalcone was mediated on CDs by ultrasonication to perform facile release of the drug delivery model. The successfully synthesized Chalcone-APBA-CDs were proved by their chemical structure, fluorescent activities, in vitro and in vivo analyses, and drug release systems using different pH. In addition, flow cytometry and confocal fluorescent imaging proved CDs' cellular uptake and imaging performance. In vitro analyses further proved that the Chalcone-APBA-CDs exhibited a higher toxicity value than bare CDs and efficiently inhibited the proliferation of the HeLa cells depending on their dose-response. Finally, the performance of Chalcone-APBA-CDs on cancer healing capability was examined in vivo with fibrosarcoma cancer-bearing mice, which showed a remarkable ability to reduce the tumor volume compared with saline (control). This result strongly suggested that the Chalcone-APBA-CDs appear promising simultaneously as cancer cell imaging and drug delivery.

Keywords: Carbon dots; chalcone; drug release; in vitro and in vivo assay.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbon / chemistry
  • Carbon / pharmacology
  • Chalcones*
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Nanostructures*


  • Chalcones
  • Carbon