Metformin derived carbon dots: Highly biocompatible fluorescent nanomaterials as mitochondrial targeting and blood-brain barrier penetrating biomarkers

Emel Kirbas Cilingir, Elif S. Seven, Yiqun Zhou, Brian M. Walters, Keenan J. Mintz, Raja R. Pandey, Athula H. Wikramanayake, Charles C. Chusuei, Steven Vanni, Regina M. Graham, Roger M. Leblanc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Carbon dots (CDs) have been intensively studied since their discovery in 2004 because of their unique properties such as low toxicity, excellent biocompatibility, high photoluminescence (PL) and good water dispersibility. In this study metformin derived carbon dots (Met-CDs) were synthesized using a microwave assisted method. Met-CDs were meticulously characterized using ultra-violet spectroscopy (UV–vis), photoluminescence (PL), Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), atomic force (AFM) and transmission electron (TEM) microscopies. According to results of cytotoxicity studies, Met-CDs possess low-toxicity and excellent biocompatibility towards both non-tumor and tumor cell lines indicating that Met-CDs are outstanding candidates for living cell bioimaging studies. Furthermore, bioimaging studies have displayed that Met-CDs can penetrate the cell membrane and disperse throughout the cell structure including the nucleus and mitochondria. More specifically, Met-CDs tend to start localizing selectively inside the mitochondria of cancer cells, but not of non-tumor cells after 1 h of incubation. Finally, a zebrafish study confirmed that Met-CDs cross the blood–brain barrier (BBB) without the need of any other ligands. In summary, this study presents synthesis of Met-CDs which feature abilities such as mitochondrial and nucleus localizations along with BBB penetration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-497
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Colloid And Interface Science
Volume592
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 15 2021

Keywords

  • BBB penetration
  • Bioimaging
  • Biomarker
  • Met-CDs
  • Mitochondrial and nucleus targeting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry

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