Design and synthesis of highly fluorescent and stable fullerene nanoparticles as probes for folic acid detection and targeted cancer cells imaging

Yihan Ma, Sheng Fu, Yixuan Tan, Aiqing Zhang
Nanotechnology 2021 January 22
Rational design and construction of fullerene derivatives play significant roles in the development of their applications for sensing, marking and imaging in the biomeidical fields. In the present work, a novel type of C60 fluorescent nanoparticles (C60 FNPs) were synthesized by the combination of thiol-ene chemistry and modification with folic acid (FA). The as-prepared C60 FNPs exhibited intense blue luminescence with a relatively high quantum yield (QY) of 26%, which is higher than any other reported fluorescent fullerene-based nanomaterials. Moreover, they revealed superior photobleaching resistance under constant UV lamp illumination for 5 h and excellent photostablity after 9 months of storage in water. Due to the mutual hydrogen-bonds interaction, the obtained C60 FNPs were capable of a sensitive and specific probe for FA detection and quantization, with a liner range of 0 to 80 μM and a detection limit of 0.24 μM. Satisfactory recoveries (95.4-105.2%) were obtained from a series of actual samples, further confirming the feasibility of this nanoprobe. Additionally, taking advantage of the FA moiety of C60 FNPs, they had easy access to penetrate into particular cancer cells with higher expression levels of folate receptors (FRs), thereby achieving the function of targeted cellular imaging.

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