In vitro and in vivo toxicological evaluation of carbon quantum dots originating from Spinacia oleracea

Heliyon. 2023 Feb 2;9(2):e13422. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2023.e13422. eCollection 2023 Feb.


Food-derived carbon quantum dots (CQDs) can relatively easily be synthesized and chemically manipulated for a broad spectrum of biomedical applications. However, their toxicity may hinder their actual use. Here, Spinacia oleracea-derived CQDs i.e., CQD-1 and CQD-2, were synthesized by means of different shredding methods and followed by a microwave-assisted hydrothermal approach. Subsequently, these CQDs were analyzed in vitro and in an in vivo mice model to test their biocompatibility and potential use as bioimaging agents and for activation of osteogenic differentiation. When comparing CQD-1 and CQD-2, it was found that CQD-1 exhibited 7.6 times higher photoluminescent (PL) emission intensity around 411 nm compared to CQD-2. Besides, it was found that the size distribution of CQD-1 was 2.05 ± 0.08 nm, compared with 2.14 ± 0.04 nm for CQD-2. Upon exposure to human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hBMSCs) in vitro, CQD-1 was endocytosed into the cytoplasm and significantly increased the differentiation of hBMSCs up to 10 μg mL-1 after 7 and 14 days. Apparently, the presence of relatively low doses of CQD-1 showed virtually no toxic or histological effects in the major organs in vivo. In contrast, high doses of CQD-1 (1 mg mL-1) caused cell death in vitro ranging from 35% on day 1 to 80% on day 3 post-exposure, and activated the apoptotic machinery and increased lymphocyte aggregates in the liver tissue. In conclusion, S. oleracea-derived CQDs have the potential for biomedical applications in bioimaging and activation of stem cells osteogenic differentiation. Therefore, it is postulated that CQD-1 from S. oleracea remains potential prospective material at appropriate doses and specifications.

PMID:36820041 | PMC:PMC9937992 | DOI:10.1016/j.heliyon.2023.e13422


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