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author:("Cui, daxing")
1.  Insights into the Distinguishing Stress-induced Cytotoxicity of Chiral Gold Nanoclusters and the Relationship with GSTP1 
Theranostics  2015;5(2):134-149.
Chiral gold nanoclusters (Au NCs) exhibit attracting properties owing to their unique physical and chemical properties. Herein we report for the first time chiral gold nanoclusters' cytotoxicity and potential molecular mechanism. The L-glutathione (i.e. L-GSH) and D-glutathione (i.e. D-GSH)-capped Au NCs were prepared and characterized by HRTEM, UV-vis, photoluminescence and circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy. Results showed that the CD spectra of L-glutathione (i.e. L-GSH) and D-glutathione (i.e. D-GSH)-capped Au NCs exhibited multiple bands which were identically mirror-imaged, demonstrating that the chirality of GSH-capped NCs had contributions from both the metal core and the ligand. The effects of AuNCs@L-GSH and AuNCs@D-GSH on cells were similar based on the cell physiology related cytotoxicity, although the effects became more prominent in AuNCs@D-GSH treated cells, including ROS generation, mitochondrial membrane depolarization, cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. Global gene expression and pathway analysis displayed that both AuNCs@L-GSH and AuNCs@D-GSH caused the up-regulation of genes involved in cellular rescue and stress response, while AuNCs@D-GSH individually induced up-regulation of transcripts involved in some metabolic- and biosynthetic-related response. MGC-803 cells were more sensitive to the oxidative stress damage induced by chiral Au NCs than GES-1 cells, which was associated with GSTP1 hypermethylation. In conclusion, chiral gold nanoclusters exhibit this chirality-associated regulation of cytotoxicity, different gene expression profiling and epigenetic changes should be responsible for observed phenomena. Our study highlights the importance of the interplays between chiral materials and biological system at sub-nano level.
PMCID: PMC4279000  PMID: 25553104
gold nanocluster; chirality; cytotoxicity; ROS; methylation; epigenetic analysis.
2.  Fluorescent carbon dots as an efficient siRNA nanocarrier for its interference therapy in gastric cancer cells 
Fluorescent carbon dots (Cdots) have attracted increasing attention due to their potential applications in sensing, catalysis, and biomedicine. Currently, intensive research has been concentrated on the synthesis and imaging-guided therapy of these benign photoluminescent materials. Meanwhile, Cdots have been explored as nonviral vector for nucleic acid or drug delivery by chemical modification on purpose.
We have developed a microwave assisted one-step synthesis of Cdots with citric acid as carbon source and tryptophan (Trp) as both nitrogen source and passivation agent. The Cdots with uniform size show superior water solubility, excellent biocompatibility, and high quantum yield. Afterwards, the PEI (polyethylenimine)-adsorbed Cdots nanoparticles (Cdots@PEI) were applied to deliver Survivin siRNA into human gastric cancer cell line MGC-803. The results have confirmed the nanocarrier exhibited excellent biocompatibility and a significant increase in cellular delivery of siRNA, inducing efficient knockdown for Survivin protein to 6.1%. In addition, PEI@Cdots complexes mediated Survivin silencing, the arrested cell cycle progression in G1 phase as well as cell apoptosis was observed.
The Cdots-based and PEI-adsorbed complexes both as imaging agents and siRNA nanocarriers have been developed for Survivin siRNA delivery. And the results indicate that Cdots-based nanocarriers could be utilized in a broad range of siRNA delivery systems for cancer therapy.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12951-014-0058-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4304159  PMID: 25547381
Carbon dots; siRNA interference therapy; Gastric cancer; Nanocarriers
3.  Enhanced in Vivo Delivery of 5-Fluorouracil by Ethosomal Gels in Rabbit Ear Hypertrophic Scar Model 
Applying Ethosomal Gels (EGs) in transdermal drug delivery systems has evoked considerable interest because of their good water-solubility and biocompatibility. However, there has not been an explicit description of applying EGs as a vehicle for hypertrophic scars treatment. Here, a novel transdermal EGs loaded with 5-fluorouracil (5-FU EGs) was successfully prepared and characterized. The stability assay in vitro revealed that 5-FU EGs stored for a period of 30 days at 4 ± 1 °C had a better size stability than that at 25 ± 1 °C. Furthermore, using confocal laser scanning microscopy, EGs labeled with Rhodamine 6 G penetrated into the deep dermis of the hypertrophic scar within 24 h in the rabbit ear hypertrophic model suggested that the EGs were an optional delivery carrier through scar tissues. In addition, the value of the Scar Elevation Index (SEI) of 5-FU EGs group in the rabbit ear scar model was lower than that of 5-FU Phosphate Buffered Saline gel and Control groups. To conclude, these results suggest that EGs delivery system loaded 5-fluorouracil is a perfect candidate drug for hypertrophic scars therapy in future.
PMCID: PMC4284737  PMID: 25501333
drug delivery; ethosome; 5-fluorouracil; gel; hypertrophic scars penetration
4.  A multifunctional ribonuclease A-conjugated carbon dot cluster nanosystem for synchronous cancer imaging and therapy 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2014;9(1):397.
Carbon dots exhibit great potential in applications such as molecular imaging and in vivo molecular tracking. However, how to enhance fluorescence intensity of carbon dots has become a great challenge. Herein, we report for the first time a new strategy to synthesize fluorescent carbon dots (C-dots) with high quantum yields by using ribonuclease A (RNase A) as a biomolecular templating agent under microwave irradiation. The synthesized RNase A-conjugated carbon dots (RNase A@C-dots) exhibited quantum yields of 24.20%. The fluorescent color of the RNase A@C-dots can easily be adjusted by varying the microwave reaction time and microwave power. Moreover, the emission wavelength and intensity of RNase A@C-dots displayed a marked excitation wavelength-dependent character. As the excitation wavelength alters from 300 to 500 nm, the photoluminescence (PL) peak exhibits gradually redshifts from 450 to 550 nm, and the intensity reaches its maximum at an excitation wavelength of 380 nm. Its Stokes shift is about 80 nm. Notably, the PL intensity is gradually decreasing as the pH increases, almost linearly dependent, and it reaches the maximum at a pH = 2 condition; the emission peaks also show clearly a redshift, which may be caused by the high activity and perfective dispersion of RNase A in a lower pH solution. In high pH solution, RNase A tends to form RNase A warped carbon dot nanoclusters. Cell imaging confirmed that the RNase A@C-dots could enter into the cytoplasm through cell endocytosis. 3D confocal imaging and transmission electron microscopy observation confirmed partial RNase A@C-dots located inside the nucleus. MTT and real-time cell electronic sensing (RT-CES) analysis showed that the RNase A@C-dots could effectively inhibit the growth of MGC-803 cells. Intra-tumor injection test of RNase A@C-dots showed that RNase A@C-dots could be used for imaging in vivo gastric cancer cells. In conclusion, the as-prepared RNase A@C-dots are suitable for simultaneous therapy and in vivo fluorescence imaging of nude mice loaded with gastric cancer or other tumors.
PMCID: PMC4144986  PMID: 25177217
Carbon dots; RNase A; MGC-803 cell line; Microwave irradiation; Molecular imaging; MTT
5.  Photosensitizer-Loaded Gold Vesicles with Strong Plasmonic Coupling Effect for Imaging-Guided Photothermal/Photodynamic Therapy 
ACS nano  2013;7(6):5320-5329.
A multifunctional theranostic platform based on photosensitizer-loaded plasmonic vesicular assemblies of gold nanoparticles (GNPs) is developed for effective cancer imaging and treatment. The gold vesicles (GVs) composed of a monolayer of assembled GNPs show strong absorbance in the near-infrared (NIR) range of 650–800 nm, as a result of the plasmonic coupling effect between neighboring GNPs in the vesicular membranes. The strong NIR absorption and the capability of encapsulating photosensitizer Ce6 in gold vesicles (GVs) enable tri-modality NIR fluorescence/thermal/photoacoustic imaging-guided synergistic photothermal/photodynamic therapy (PTT/PDT) with improved efficacy. The Ce6-loaded GVs (GV-Ce6) have the following characteristics: i) high Ce6 loading efficiency (up to ~18.4 wt%; ii) enhanced cellular uptake efficiency of Ce6; iii) simultaneous tri-modality NIR fluorescence/thermal/photoacoustic imaging; iv) synergistic PTT/PDT treatment with improved efficacy using single wavelength continuous wave laser irradiation.
PMCID: PMC3709863  PMID: 23721576
Gold vesicles; plasmonic coupling effect; photoacoustic imaging; photothermal therapy; photodynamic therapy; synergistic therapy
6.  Photosensitizer-Conjugated Silica-Coated Gold Nanoclusters for Fluorescence Imaging-Guided Photodynamic Therapy 
Biomaterials  2013;34(19):4643-4654.
Multifunctional theranostics have recently been intensively explored to optimize the efficacy and safety of therapeutic regimens. In this work, a photo-theranostic agent based on chlorin e6 (Ce6) photosensitizer-conjugated silica-coated gold nanoclusters (AuNCs@SiO2-Ce6) is strategically designed and prepared for fluorescence imaging-guided photodynamic therapy (PDT). The AuNCs@SiO2-Ce6 shows the following features: i) high Ce6 photosensitizer loading; ii) no non-specific release of Ce6 during its circulation; iii) significantly enhanced cellular uptake efficiency of Ce6, offering a remarkably improved photodynamic therapeutic efficacy compared to free Ce6; iv) subcellular characterization of the nanoformula via both the fluorescence of Ce6 and plasmon luminescence of AuNCs; v) fluorescence imaging-guided photodynamic therapy (PDT). This photo-theranostics owns good stability, high water dispersibility and solubility, non-cytotoxicity, and good biocompatibility, thus facilitating its biomedical applications, particularly for multi-modal optical, CT and photoacoustic (PA) imaging guided PDT or sonodynamic therapy.
PMCID: PMC3645870  PMID: 23523428
Theranostics; silica; gold nanocluster; chlorin e6 (Ce6); fluorescence imaging; photodynamic therapy
7.  HAI-178 antibody-conjugated fluorescent magnetic nanoparticles for targeted imaging and simultaneous therapy of gastric cancer 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2014;9(1):274.
The successful development of safe and highly effective nanoprobes for targeted imaging and simultaneous therapy of in vivo gastric cancer is a great challenge. Herein we reported for the first time that anti-α-subunit of ATP synthase antibody, HAI-178 monoclonal antibody-conjugated fluorescent magnetic nanoparticles, was successfully used for targeted imaging and simultaneous therapy of in vivo gastric cancer. A total of 172 specimens of gastric cancer tissues were collected, and the expression of α-subunit of ATP synthase in gastric cancer tissues was investigated by immunohistochemistry method. Fluorescent magnetic nanoparticles were prepared and conjugated with HAI-178 monoclonal antibody, and the resultant HAI-178 antibody-conjugated fluorescent magnetic nanoparticles (HAI-178-FMNPs) were co-incubated with gastric cancer MGC803 cells and gastric mucous GES-1 cells. Gastric cancer-bearing nude mice models were established, were injected with prepared HAI-178-FMNPs via tail vein, and were imaged by magnetic resonance imaging and small animal fluorescent imaging system. The results showed that the α-subunit of ATP synthase exhibited high expression in 94.7% of the gastric cancer tissues. The prepared HAI-178-FMNPs could target actively MGC803 cells, realized fluorescent imaging and magnetic resonance imaging of in vivo gastric cancer, and actively inhibited growth of gastric cancer cells. In conclusion, HAI-178 antibody-conjugated fluorescent magnetic nanoparticles have a great potential in applications such as targeted imaging and simultaneous therapy of in vivo early gastric cancer cells in the near future.
PMCID: PMC4052287  PMID: 24948895
HAI-178 antibody; Fluorescent magnetic nanoparticles; Fluorescent imaging; Magnetic resonance imaging; Gastric cancer; Nude mice model
8.  RGD-conjugated silica-coated gold nanorods on the surface of carbon nanotubes for targeted photoacoustic imaging of gastric cancer 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2014;9(1):264.
Herein, we reported for the first time that RGD-conjugated silica-coated gold nanorods on the surface of multiwalled carbon nanotubes were successfully used for targeted photoacoustic imaging of in vivo gastric cancer cells. A simple strategy was used to attach covalently silica-coated gold nanorods (sGNRs) onto the surface of multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs) to fabricate a hybrid nanostructure. The cross-linked reaction occurred through the combination of carboxyl groups on the MWNTs and the amino group on the surface of sGNRs modified with a silane coupling agent. RGD peptides were conjugated with the sGNR/MWNT nanostructure; resultant RGD-conjugated sGNR/MWNT probes were investigated for their influences on viability of MGC803 and GES-1 cells. The nude mice models loaded with gastric cancer cells were prepared, the RGD-conjugated sGNR/MWNT probes were injected into gastric cancer-bearing nude mice models via the tail vein, and the nude mice were observed by an optoacoustic imaging system. Results showed that RGD-conjugated sGNR/MWNT probes showed good water solubility and low cellular toxicity, could target in vivo gastric cancer cells, and obtained strong photoacoustic imaging in the nude model. RGD-conjugated sGNR/MWNT probes will own great potential in applications such as targeted photoacoustic imaging and photothermal therapy in the near future.
PMCID: PMC4053550  PMID: 24948888
RGD peptide; Gold nanorods; Multiwalled carbon nanotubes; Optoacoustic imaging; Gastric cancer; Nude mice
9.  BRCAA1 antibody- and Her2 antibody-conjugated amphiphilic polymer engineered CdSe/ZnS quantum dots for targeted imaging of gastric cancer 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2014;9(1):244.
Successful development of safe and highly effective nanoprobes for targeted imaging of in vivo early gastric cancer is a great challenge. Herein, we choose the CdSe/ZnS (core-shell) quantum dots (QDs) as prototypical materials, synthesized one kind of a new amphiphilic polymer including dentate-like alkyl chains and multiple carboxyl groups, and then used the prepared amphiphilic polymer to modify QDs. The resultant amphiphilic polymer engineered QDs (PQDs) were conjugated with BRCAA1 and Her2 monoclonal antibody, and prepared BRCAA1 antibody- and Her2 antibody-conjugated QDs were used for in vitro MGC803 cell labeling and in vivo targeted imaging of gastric cancer cells. Results showed that the PQDs exhibited good water solubility, strong photoluminescence (PL) intensity, and good biocompatibility. BRCAA1 antibody- and Her2 antibody-conjugated QD nanoprobes successfully realized targeted imaging of in vivo gastric cancer MGC803 cells. In conclusion, BRCAA1 antibody- and Her2 antibody-conjugated PQDs have great potential in applications such as single cell labeling and in vivo tracking, and targeted imaging and therapeutic effects' evaluation of in vivo early gastric cancer cells in the near future.
PMCID: PMC4043660  PMID: 24940175
CdSe/ZnS quantum dots (QDs); Amphiphilic polymer; BRCAA1 antibody; Her2 antibody; Cytotoxicity; Targeted imaging; Gastric cancer cell
10.  Capillary-driven surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS)-based microfluidic chip for abrin detection 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2014;9(1):138.
Herein, we firstly demonstrate the design and the proof-of-concept use of a capillary-driven surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS)-based microfluidic chip for abrin detection. The micropillar array substrate was etched and coated with a gold film by microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) process to integrate into a lateral flow test strip. The detection of abrin solutions of various concentrations was performed by the as-prepared microfluidic chip. It was shown that the correlation between the abrin concentration and SERS signal was found to be linear within the range of 0.1 ng/mL to 1 μg/mL with a limit of detection of 0.1 ng/mL. Our microfluidic chip design enhanced the operability of SERS-based immunodiagnostic techniques, significantly reducing the complication and cost of preparation as compared to previous SERS-based works. Meanwhile, this design proved the superiority to conventional lateral flow test strips in respect of both sensitivity and quantitation and showed great potential in the diagnosis and treatment for abrin poisoning as well as on-site screening of abrin-spiked materials.
PMCID: PMC3994323  PMID: 24655483
Capillary force; Microfluidic chip; SERS; Abrin; Phytotoxin
11.  Carbon nanotubes as VEGF carriers to improve the early vascularization of porcine small intestinal submucosa in abdominal wall defect repair 
Insufficient early vascularization in biological meshes, resulting in limited host tissue incorporation, is thought to be the primary cause for the failure of abdominal wall defect repair after implantation. The sustained release of exogenous angiogenic factors from a biocompatible nanomaterial might be a way to overcome this limitation. In the study reported here, multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWNT) were functionalized by plasma polymerization to deliver vascular endothelial growth factor165 (VEGF165). The novel VEGF165-controlled released system was incorporated into porcine small intestinal submucosa (PSIS) to construct a composite scaffold. Scaffolds incorporating varying amounts of VEGF165-loaded functionalized MWNT were characterized in vitro. At 5 weight percent MWNT, the scaffolds exhibited optimal properties and were implanted in rats to repair abdominal wall defects. PSIS scaffolds incorporating VEGF165-loaded MWNT (VEGF–MWNT–PSIS) contributed to early vascularization from 2–12 weeks postimplantation and obtained more effective collagen deposition and exhibited improved tensile strength at 24 weeks postimplantation compared to PSIS or PSIS scaffolds, incorporating MWNT without VEGF165 loading (MWNT–PSIS).
PMCID: PMC3956480  PMID: 24648727
vascular endothelial growth factor165; controlled release; multi-walled carbon nanotube; early vascularization
12.  A CCD-based reader combined with CdS quantum dot-labeled lateral flow strips for ultrasensitive quantitative detection of CagA 
Immunochromatographic assays are widely used to detect many analytes. CagA is proved to be associated closely with initiation of gastric carcinoma. Here, we reported that a charge-coupled device (CCD)-based test strip reader combined with CdS quantum dot-labeled lateral flow strips for quantitative detection of CagA was developed, which used 365-nm ultraviolet LED as the excitation light source, and captured the test strip images through an acquisition module. Then, the captured image was transferred to the computer and was processed by a software system. A revised weighted threshold histogram equalization (WTHE) image processing algorithm was applied to analyze the result. CdS quantum dot-labeled lateral flow strips for detection of CagA were prepared. One hundred sera samples from clinical patients with gastric cancer and healthy people were prepared for detection, which demonstrated that the device could realize rapid, stable, and point-of-care detection, with a sensitivity of 20 pg/mL.
PMCID: PMC3928623  PMID: 24495570
Test strip reader; CCD; Revised WTHE algorithm; CdS quantum dots; CagA
13.  Identification of Volatile Biomarkers of Gastric Cancer Cells and Ultrasensitive Electrochemical Detection based on Sensing Interface of Au-Ag Alloy coated MWCNTs 
Theranostics  2014;4(2):154-162.
Successful development of novel electrochemical biosensing interface for ultrasensitive detection of volatile biomarkers of gastric cancer cells is a challenging task. Herein we reported to screen out novel volatile biomarkers associated with gastric cancer cells and develop a novel Au-Ag alloy composites-coated MWCNTs as sensing interface for ultrasensitive detection of volatile biomarkers. MGC-803 gastric cancer cells and GES-1 gastric mucous cells were cultured in serum-free media. The sample preparation approaches and HS-SPME conditions were optimized for screening volatile biomarkers. Volatiles emitted from the headspace of the cells/medium culture were identified using GC-MS. The Au-Ag nanoparticles-coated multiwalled carbon nanotubes were prepared as a sensing interface for detection of volatile biomarkers. Results showed that eight different volatile metabolites were screened out between MGC-803 cells and GES-1 cells. Two compounds such as 3-octanone and butanone were specifically present in the headspace of the MGC-803 cells. Three volatiles such as 4-isopropoxybutanol, nonanol and 4-butoxy 1-butanol coexisted in the headspace of both the MGC-803 cells and the GES-1 cells, their concentrations in the headspace of the GES-1cells were markedly higher than those in the MGC-803 cells, three volatiles such as formic acid propyl ester, 1.4-butanediol and 2, 6, 11-trimethyl dodecane solely existed in the headspace of the GES-1 cells. The nanocomposites of MWNTs loaded with Au-Ag nanoparticles were prepared as a electrochemical sensing interface for detection of two volatile biomarkers, cyclic voltammetry studies showed that the fabricated sensor could detect 3-octanone in the range of 0~0.0025% (v/v) and with a detection limitation of 0.3 ppb, could detect butanone in the range of 0 ~ 0.055% (v/v), and with a detection limitation of 0.5 ppb, and exhibited good selectivity. The novel electrochemical biosensor combined with volatile biomarkers of gastric cancer owns great potential in applications such as early diagnosis and the prognosis of gastric cancer in near future.
PMCID: PMC3900800  PMID: 24465273
gastric cancer cells; volatile organic compounds; multi-wall carbon nanotubes; Au-Ag nanoparticles; cyclic voltammetry; electrochemical sensor.
14.  Shape-controllable synthesis of hydrophilic NaLuF4:Yb,Er nanocrystals by a surfactant-assistant two-phase system 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2013;8(1):518.
Water-soluble upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) were prepared by a one-pot procedure in a two-phase reacting system. Four kinds of surfactants were tested in the synthesis process as capping agent to tune size and morphology of nanocrystals. Nanoparticles (approximately 70 nm) and rods (400 nm and 2.5 μm) were synthesized, respectively. Then, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy analysis confirmed the successful linking between UCNP surface and surfactant. Ionic liquids (ILs) and surfactants participated in synthesis process together, competing with each other to cap on UCNPs. ILs still led the competition of capping, while surfactants worked as cooperative assistants to develop functional surface. Further characterizations such as high-resolution transmission electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction indicated the changes in crystallization and phase transformation under the influence of surfactants. In addition, the growth mechanism of nanocrystals and upconversion fluorescence luminance was also investigated in detail. At last, the cytotoxicity of UCNPs was evaluated, which highly suggest that these surface-functionalized UCNPs are promising candidates for biomedical engineering.
PMCID: PMC4029583  PMID: 24314099
Upconversion; Rare earths; Surfactant; Capping agent; Luminescence; Cytotoxicity
15.  A Systematically Combined Genotype and Functional Combination Analysis of CYP2E1, CYP2D6, CYP2C9, CYP2C19 in Different Geographic Areas of Mainland China – A Basis for Personalized Therapy 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e71934.
The cytochrome P450 is the major enzyme involved in drug metabolism. Single CYP genotypes and metabolic phenotypes have been widely studied, but no combination analysis has been conducted in the context of specific populations and geographical areas. This study is the first to systematically analyze the combined genotypes and functional combinations of 400 samples of major CYP genes—CYP2E1, CYP2D6, CYP2C9, and CYP2C19 in four geographical areas of mainland China. 167 different genotype combinations were identified, of which 25 had a greater than 1% frequency in the Chinese Han population. In addition, phenotypes of the four genes for each sample were in line with the predictions of previous studies of the four geographical areas. On the basis of the genotype classification, we were able to produce a systemic functional combinations analysis for the population. 25 of the combinations detected had at least two non-wild phenotypes and four showed a frequency above 1%. A bioinformatics analysis of the relationship between particular drugs and multi-genes was conducted. This is the first systematic study to analyze genotype combinations and functional combinations across whole Chinese population and could make a significant contribution in the field of personalized medicine and therapy.
PMCID: PMC3788764  PMID: 24098323
16.  Light-Triggered Theranostics Based on Photosensitizer-Conjugated Carbon Dots for Simultaneous Enhanced-Fluorescence Imaging and Photodynamic Therapy 
PMCID: PMC3657566  PMID: 22718562
Theranostics; carbon dots; chlorin e6 (Ce6); fluorescence imaging; photodynamic therapy
17.  Carbon dots: a safe nanoscale substance for the immunologic system of mice 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2013;8(1):276.
We aimed at investigating the effect of carbon dots on the BALB/c mice immune system. Mice were respectively treated with different doses of carbon dots and saline. At 1 and 9 days after intravenous administration of carbon dots, splenocyte proliferation, subpopulation of the peripheral lymphocytes, and induction of primary immune responses in mice were investigated. The results showed that high dose of carbon dots could promote the percentages of CD3+ and interferon-γ (IFN-γ) secretion and decrease the proportions of CD4+/CD8+ on the first day after administration. At 9 days post exposure, the proliferation of splenocytes had a significant increase. IFN-γ secretion and proportions of CD3+/CD19+ were also found to have an obvious promotion, and both the percentages of CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes were raised, whereas the expression of cytokines made little change in the treated groups, except for IL-12 which had a slight increase in the 50-mg/kg group. The weight coefficients and histological analysis of the spleen and thymus of the treated mice exerted fewer differences compared with those from the control mice. It suggests that carbon dots could influence the immune functions of normal BALB/c mice by inducing Th1 and Tc responses and that these effects were not enough to induce the morphological change of the immune organs.
PMCID: PMC3691753  PMID: 23758938
Carbon dots; Immune function; Splenocyte proliferation; Cytokine
18.  Folic acid-conjugated silica capped gold nanoclusters for targeted fluorescence/X-ray computed tomography imaging 
Gastric cancer is 2th most common cancer in China, and is still the second most common cause of cancer-related death in the world. Successful development of safe and effective nanoprobes for in vivo gastric cancer targeting imaging is a big challenge. This study is aimed to develop folic acid (FA)-conjugated silica coated gold nanoclusters (AuNCs) for targeted dual-modal fluorescent and X-ray computed tomography imaging (CT) of in vivo gastric cancer cells.
AuNCs were prepared, silica was coated on the surface of AuNCs, then folic acid was covalently anchored on the surface of AuNCs, resultant FA-conjugated AuNCs@SiO2 nanoprobes were investigated their cytotoxicity by MTT method, and their targeted ability to FR(+) MGC803 cells and FR(−) GES-1 cells. Nude mice model loaded with MGC803 cells were prepared, prepared nanoprobes were injected into nude mice via tail vein, and then were imaged by fluorescent and X-ray computed tomography (CT) imaging.
FA-conjugated AuNCs@SiO2 nanoprobes exhibited good biocompatibility, and could target actively the FR(+) MGC-803 cells and in vivo gastric cancer tissues with 5 mm in diameter in nude mice models, exhibited excellent red emitting fluorescence imaging and CT imaging.
The high-performance FA-conjugated AuNCs@SiO2 nanoprobes can target in vivo gastric cancer cells, can be used for fluorescent and CT dual-mode imaging, and may own great potential in applications such as targeted dual-mode imaging of in vivo early gastric cancer and other tumors with FR positive expression in near future.
PMCID: PMC3669628  PMID: 23718865
Gold nanoclusters; Silica; Folic acid; Fluorescent imaging; X-ray computed tomography
19.  Metal ion-directed solution-phase tailoring: from large-area graphene oxide into nanoscale pieces 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2013;8(1):226.
Due to fascinating electronic properties and great potential in various applications, graphene has attracted great interest. Recently, much work have focused on the synthesis of different sizes and properties of graphene or graphene oxides (GOs), for example, graphene nanoribbons, nanosized graphene pieces, and nanosized triangular and hexagonal graphene sheets terminated by zigzag edges. Herein, we have demonstrated a widely available approach to fabricate the nanoscale GO pieces by directly solution-phase cutting a large-area GO sheet into nanoscale pieces via spontaneous redox reactions at room temperature. In this process, GO acts with dual functions as a model and a reducing reagent. With a typical example of silver ions, we have investigated in detail the influence of the reaction time and concentration of metal ions on yield and size of nanoscale GO pieces. Moreover, we also obtain Ag nanoparticle coating on the GO surface. Finally, a possible mechanism is suggested to explain the formation of nanoscale GO pieces.
PMCID: PMC3665674  PMID: 23672471
Graphene oxides; Nanoscale graphene oxide pieces; Spontaneous redox reaction; Metal particles
20.  Identification of 5-Iodotubercidin as a Genotoxic Drug with Anti-Cancer Potential 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e62527.
Tumor suppressor p53, which is activated by various stress and oncogene activation, is a target for anti-cancer drug development. In this study, by screening panels of protein kinase inhibitors and protein phosphatase inhibitors, we identified 5-Iodotubercidin as a strong p53 activator. 5-Iodotubercidin is purine derivative and is used as an inhibitor for various kinases including adenosine kinase. We found that 5-Iodotubercidin could cause DNA damage, verified by induction of DNA breaks and nuclear foci positive for γH2AX and TopBP1, activation of Atm and Chk2, and S15 phosphorylation and up-regulation of p53. As such, 5-Iodotubercidin induces G2 cell cycle arrest in a p53-dependent manner. Itu also induces cell death in p53-dependent and -independent manners. DNA breaks were likely generated by incorporation of 5-Iodotubercidin metabolite into DNA. Moreover, 5-Iodotubercidin showed anti-tumor activity as it could reduce the tumor size in carcinoma xenograft mouse models in p53-dependent and -independent manners. These findings reveal 5-Iodotubercidin as a novel genotoxic drug that has chemotherapeutic potential.
PMCID: PMC3646850  PMID: 23667485
21.  Drug addiction is associated with leukocyte telomere length 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:1542.
Telomeres are protective chromosomal structures that play a key role in preserving genomic stability. Telomere length is known to be associated with ageing and age-related diseases. To study the impairment of telomeres induced by drug abuse, we conducted an association study in the Chinese Han population. Multivariate linear regression analyses were performed to evaluate the correlation of leukocyte telomere length (LTL) with addiction control status adjusted for age and gender. The results showed that drug abusers exhibited significantly shorter LTLs than controls (P = 1.32e−06). The time before relapse also presented an inverse correlation with LTL (P = 0.02). Drug abusers who had used heroin and diazepam displayed a shorter LTL than those taking other drugs (P = 0.018 and P = 0.009, respectively). Drug abusers who had ingested drugs via snuff exhibited longer LTLs than those using other methods (P = 0.02). These observations may offer a partial explanation for the effects of drug addiction on health.
PMCID: PMC3607895  PMID: 23528991
22.  Systematic safety evaluation on photoluminescent carbon dots 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2013;8(1):122.
Photoluminescent carbon dots (C-dots) were prepared using the improved nitric acid oxidation method. The C-dots were characterized by tapping-mode atomic force microscopy, and UV–vis absorption spectroscopy. The C-dots were subjected to systematic safety evaluation via acute toxicity, subacute toxicity, and genotoxicity experiments (including mouse bone marrow micronuclear test and Salmonella typhimurium mutagenicity test). The results showed that the C-dots were successfully prepared with good stability, high dispersibility, and water solubility. At all studied C-dot dosages, no significant toxic effect, i.e., no abnormality or lesion, was observed in the organs of the animals. Therefore, the C-dots are non-toxic to mice under any dose and have potential use in fluorescence imaging in vivo, tumor cell tracking, and others.
PMCID: PMC3602655  PMID: 23497260
Carbon dots; Biocompatibility; Toxicity
23.  Rapid screening and identification of dominant B cell epitopes of HBV surface antigen by quantum dot-based fluorescence polarization assay 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2013;8(1):118.
A method for quickly screening and identifying dominant B cell epitopes was developed using hepatitis B virus (HBV) surface antigen as a target. Eleven amino acid fragments from HBV surface antigen were synthesized by 9-fluorenylmethoxy carbonyl solid-phase peptide synthesis strategy, and then CdTe quantum dots were used to label the N-terminals of all peptides. After optimizing the factors for fluorescence polarization (FP) immunoassay, the antigenicities of synthetic peptides were determined by analyzing the recognition and combination of peptides and standard antibody samples. The results of FP assays confirmed that 10 of 11 synthetic peptides have distinct antigenicities. In order to screen dominant antigenic peptides, the FP assays were carried out to investigate the antibodies against the 10 synthetic peptides of HBV surface antigen respectively in 159 samples of anti-HBV surface antigen-positive antiserum. The results showed that 3 of the 10 antigenic peptides may be immunodominant because the antibodies against them existed more widely among the samples and their antibody titers were higher than those of other peptides. Using three dominant antigenic peptides, 293 serum samples were detected for HBV infection by FP assays; the results showed that the antibody-positive ratio was 51.9% and the sensitivity and specificity were 84.3% and 98.2%, respectively. In conclusion, a quantum dot-based FP assay is a very simple, rapid, and convenient method for determining immunodominant antigenic peptides and has great potential in applications such as epitope mapping, vaccine designing, or clinical disease diagnosis in the future.
PMCID: PMC3605173  PMID: 23452727
Dominant epitope; Quantum dots; Antigenic peptide; Fluorescence polarization; HBV; Surface antigen
24.  Phase and Size Controllable Synthesis of NaYbF4 Nanocrystals in Oleic Acid/ Ionic Liquid Two-Phase System for Targeted Fluorescent Imaging of Gastric Cancer 
Theranostics  2013;3(3):210-222.
Upconversion nanocrystals with small size and strong fluorescent signals own great potential in applications such as biomolecule-labeling, in vivo tracking and molecular imaging. Herein we reported that NaYbF4: 25%Gd, 2%Tm upconversion nanocrystals with small size and strong fluorescent signals were controllably synthesized by oleic acid (OA)/ ionic liquid (IL) two-phase system for targeted fluorescent imaging of gastric cancer in vivo. The optimal synthesis condition of NaYbF4: 25%Gd, 2%Tm upconversion nanocrystals by OA/IL two-phase system was established, adding more metal ion such as Na+ ion could facilitate the size control and crystal-phase transition, more importantly, markedly enhancing fluorescent intensity of beta-phase nanocrystals compared with traditional methods. Alpha-phase NaYbF4, 2%Tm upconversion nanocrystals with less than 10nm in diameter and beta-phase NaYbF4: 25%Gd, 2%Tm upconversion nanocrystals with 30 nm or so in diameter and strong fluorescent signals were obtained, these synthesized nanocrystals exhibited very low cytotoxicity. Folic acid-conjugated silica-modified beta-phase NaYbF4: 25%Gd, 2%Tm upconversion nanocrystals were prepared, could actively target gastric cancer tissues implanted into nude mice in vivo, and realized targeted fluorescent imaging. Folic acid-conjugated silica-modified NaYbF4: 25%Gd, 2%Tm upconversion nanocrystals show great potential in applications such as targeted near infared radiation fluorescent imaging, magnetic resonance imaging and targeted therapy of gastric cancer in the near future.
PMCID: PMC3590590  PMID: 23471455
NaYbF4: 25%Gd; 2%Tm upconversion nanocrystals; synthesis; targeted imaging; fluorescent imaging; gastric cancer; cytotoxicity.
25.  Toxicity Assessments of Near-infrared Upconversion Luminescent LaF3:Yb,Er in Early Development of Zebrafish Embryos 
Theranostics  2013;3(4):258-266.
This study reports the effects of upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) LaF3:Yb,Er on zebrafish, with the aim of investigating UCNPs toxicity. LaF3:Yb,Er were prepared by an oleic acid/ionic liquid two-phase system, and characterized by transmission electron microscope and X-ray powder diffraction. 140 zebrafish embryos were divided into six test groups and one control group, and respectively were injected into 5, 25, 50, 100, 200, 400 μg/mL LaF3:Yb,Er@SiO2 solution, and respectively were raised for 5 days. Each experiment was repeated ten times. Results showed that water-soluble LaF3:Yb,Er were successfully prepared, and did not exhibit obvious toxicity to zebrafish embryos under 100 μg/mL, but exhibited chronic toxicities 200 μg/mL in vivo, resulting in malformations and delayed hatching rate and embryonic and larval development. The excretion channels of LaF3:Yb,Er in adult zebrafish were mainly found in the intestine after being injected evenly for 24 h. In conclusion, the exploration of LaF3:Yb,Er for in vivo applications in animals and humans must consider UCNPs biocompatibility.
PMCID: PMC3630526  PMID: 23606912
Upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs); biocompatibility; toxicity; zebrafish embryo.

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