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CdTe quantum dots with daunorubicin induce apoptosis of multidrug-resistant human hepatoma HepG2/ADM cells: in vitro and in vivo evaluation

Gen Zhang1, Lixin Shi2, Matthias Selke2 and Xuemei Wang1*

Author Affiliations

1 State Key Lab of Bioelectronics (Chien-Shiung Wu Lab), Department of Biological Science and Medical Engineering Southeast University, Nanjing, 210096, PR China

2 Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, California State University, Los Angeles, CA 90032, USA

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2011, 6:418  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-6-418

Published: 13 June 2011


Cadmium telluride quantum dots (Cdte QDs) have received significant attention in biomedical research because of their potential in disease diagnosis and drug delivery. In this study, we have investigated the interaction mechanism and synergistic effect of 3-mercaptopropionic acid-capped Cdte QDs with the anti-cancer drug daunorubicin (DNR) on the induction of apoptosis using drug-resistant human hepatoma HepG2/ADM cells. Electrochemical assay revealed that Cdte QDs readily facilitated the uptake of the DNR into HepG2/ADM cells. Apoptotic staining, DNA fragmentation, and flow cytometry analysis further demonstrated that compared with Cdte QDs or DNR treatment alone, the apoptosis rate increased after the treatment of Cdte QDs together with DNR in HepG2/ADM cells. We observed that Cdte QDs treatment could reduce the effect of P-glycoprotein while the treatment of Cdte QDs together with DNR can clearly activate apoptosis-related caspases protein expression in HepG2/ADM cells. Moreover, our in vivo study indicated that the treatment of Cdte QDs together with DNR effectively inhibited the human hepatoma HepG2/ADM nude mice tumor growth. The increased cell apoptosis rate was closely correlated with the enhanced inhibition of tumor growth in the studied animals. Thus, Cdte QDs combined with DNR may serve as a possible alternative for targeted therapeutic approaches for some cancer treatments.