The uptake mechanism and biocompatibility of graphene quantum dots with human neural stem cells

Weihu Shang, Xiaoyan Zhang, Mo Zhang, Zetan Fan, Ying Sun, Mei Han, Louzhen Fan
Nanoscale 2014 June 7, 6 (11): 5799-806
Cellular imaging after transplantation may provide important information to determine the efficacy of stem cell therapy. We have reported that graphene quantum dots (GQDs) are a type of robust biological labeling agent for stem cells that demonstrate little cytotoxicity. In this study, we examined the interactions of GQDs on human neural stem cells (hNSCs) with the aim to investigate the uptake and biocompatibility of GQDs. We examined the mechanism of GQD uptake by hNSCs and investigated the effects of GQDs on the proliferation, metabolic activity, and differentiation potential of hNSCs. This information is critical to assess the suitability of GQDs for stem cell tracking. Our results indicated that GQDs were taken up into hNSCs in a concentration- and time-dependent manner via the endocytosis mechanism. Furthermore, no significant change was found in the viability, proliferation, metabolic activity, and differentiation potential of hNSCs after treatment with GQDs. Thus, these data open a promising avenue for labeling stem cells with GQDs and also offer a potential opportunity to develop GQDs for biomedical applications.

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