Caveolae-dependent endocytosis mediates the cellular uptake of CdTe quantum dots in ovarian cancer cell lines

Zahra Asadian , Hakimeh Zare, Mahmoud Aghaei, Mojtaba Panjehpour


Background and purpose: Quantum dots (QDs) are semiconductor nanocrystals that are widely used in biology due to their good optical properties. QDs, especially cadmium-based QDs, play an important role in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer due to their intrinsic fluorescence. . The aim of the present study was the evaluation of the cellular uptake mechanisms of CdTe QDs in ovarian cancer cell lines. Experimental approach: In this study, we used CdTe QDs coated with thioglycolic acid. The ovarian cancer cell lines SKOV3 and OVCAR3 were treated with different concentrations of QDs, triamterene, chlorpromazine, and nystatin, and cell viability was evaluated through the MTT test. To find the way of cellular uptake of CdTe QDs, we used the MTT test and interfering compounds in endocytic pathways. Intrinsic fluorescence and cellular internalization of CdTe QDs were assessed using flow cytometry and fluorescence microscopy imaging. Findings / Results: The viability of CdTe QDs-treated cells dose-dependently decreased in comparison to untreated cells. To evaluate the cellular uptake pathways of CdTe QDs, in most cases, a significant difference was observed when the cells were pretreated with nystatin. The results of flow cytometry showed the cellular uptake of CdTe QDs was dose- and time-dependent. Conclusion and implications: Nystatin had a measurable effect on the cellular uptake of CdTe QDs. This finding suggests that caveola-mediated endocytosis has a large portion on the internalization of CdTe QDs. According to the results of this study, CdTe QDs may have potential applications in cancer research and diagnosis.


CdTe QDs; Cellular uptake; Endocytosis; Ovarian cancer.

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