Biodegradable Nanocomposite of ZnS(Mn) Quantum Dots Immobilized Graphene Oxide for Bioimaging Applications

Nanotheranostics. 2024 Jan 21;8(2):150-162. doi: 10.7150/ntno.87536. eCollection 2024.


Developing a biocompatible and biodegradable graphene-based fluorescent nanoprobe with the ability to visualize live cells could be interesting for intracellular imaging and monitoring the efficiency of chemotherapy. Herein, we report a biodegradable and biocompatible hybrid fluorescent graphene oxide (GO)-ZnS(Mn) composite synthesized via in situ growth of ZnS(Mn) quantum dots (QDs) on the surface of GO in the aqueous medium. The prepared 'GO-ZnS(Mn)' composite was characterized by X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HR-TEM) along with selected area electron diffraction (SAED). Further, the fluorescence properties of the GO-ZnS(Mn) composite were studied using fluorescence emission spectroscopy. The composite material exhibited a strong and broad visible light fluorescence from 500 to 600 nm by excitation with 365 nm (UV) light. The cytotoxic experiments of folic acid (FA) conjugated GO-ZnS(Mn) using MTT [(3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5 diphenyl tetrazolium bromide)] assay revealed that the composite had excellent biocompatibility even at higher concentrations up to 200 µg/mL in HeLa cell lines. Next, the bioimaging experiments carried out using confocal fluorescence laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) revealed that GO-ZnS(Mn) composite was taken up by the HeLa cells effectively within 12 h of incubation via receptor (folate) mediated endocytosis with strong fluorescence throughout the cell surface. Finally, the biodegradability of GO-ZnS(Mn) composite was studied by treating it with human myeloperoxidase enzyme (hMPO) isolated from the primary immune cells, neutrophils, which is important to understand the in vivo fate of GO-Zns(Mn). The HR-TEM and Raman analyses confirmed the biodegradation of GO-ZnS(Mn) within 15 h of hMPO treatment. Thus, the biodegradable GO-ZnS (Mn) composite could be helpful for chemotherapy and bioimaging applications.

MeSH terms

  • Graphite* / chemistry
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Nanocomposites* / chemistry
  • Quantum Dots* / chemistry


  • graphene oxide
  • Graphite