Biocompatible liposome and chitosan-coated CdTe/CdSe/ZnSe multi-core-multi-shell fluorescent nanoprobe for biomedical applications

Olamide Abiodun Daramola*, Justin Bazibuhe Safari, Kayode Omotayo Adeniyi, Xavier Siwe-Noundou, Laura Margaret Kirkpatrick Dingle, Adrienne Lesley Edkins, Potlaki Foster Tseki, Rui Werner Maçedo Krause

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cadmium telluride (CdTe) semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) are brightly luminescent nanocrystals that have emerged as a new class of fluorescent probes for in vivo bioimaging and theranostic applications. CdTe QDs toxicity to normal human cells is minimized by coating with a less toxic ZnS and ZnSe shell forming a core–shell nanostructure. However, coating with ZnS or ZnSe shell is insufficient to prevent the leaching of toxic Cd metal ions. To further minimize toxicity, thiol dual capped CdTe/CdSe/ZnSe multi-core-multi-shell quantum dots were coated with nanoliposome or liposome vesicles (CdTe/CdSe/ZnSe@liposome) and chitosan nanoparticles (CdTe/CdSe/ZnSe@ChitNPs) and their biocompatibility on HeLa and Vero cells were investigated. Different spectroscopic and microscopic techniques were used to elucidate nanocomposites' optical, morphological, and physicochemical properties. The coating of CdTe/CdSe/ZnSe multi-core-multi-shell quantum dots were conducted at different formulations (F1, F2 and F3) and results from the fluorescence studies show that F3 demonstrated the best interaction for both liposome and ChitNPs composite. Exposure to 12 h UV illumination studies also reveals that CdTe/CdSe/ZnSe@liposome shows an enhancement in fluorescence compared to CdTe/CdSe/ZnSe@ChitNPs. The cytotoxicity of the formulations towards HeLa and Vero cells also depicted minimal toxicity compared to CdTe/CdSe/ZnSe QDs that shows much higher toxicity (IC50 = 0.09381 mg/ml). It was further observed that liposome coated multi-core-multi-shell QDs@F2 demonstrated lower toxicity (IC50 = 0.4364 mg/ml) compared to ChitNPs coated multi-core-multi-shell QDs@F2 (IC50 = 0.1618 mg/ml). Results from the florescence imaging studies reveal that CdTe/CdSe/ZnSe-multi-core-multi-shell QDs liposomes and ChitNPs composite retained most of their fluorescence and properties and could easily be tracked in cells and visualized around the nucleus. This indicates the successful internalization of the QDs in the cytosol. Therefore, these results shows that coating CdTe multi-core-mutli-shell QDs with liposomes and ChitNPs produce better biocompatibility compared to uncoated multi-core–shell QDs. However, liposome coated CdTe/CdSe/ZnSe multi-core-multi-shell quantum dots show better optical properties, photostability and biocompatibility compared to CdTe/CdSe/ZnSe multi-core-multi-shell quantum dots with ChitNPs coating. These particles therefore show good promise in cell-labelling and drug delivery studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115714
JournalJournal of Photochemistry and Photobiology A: Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2024


  • Biocompatibility
  • CdTe/CdSe/ZnSe multi-core-multi-shell QDs
  • Cellular imaging
  • Nanoliposome and chitosan nanoparticle composite
  • Optical properties
  • Photostability


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