Luminescence : the journal of biological and chemical luminescence

Preparation of pH-stimuli-responsive PEG-TGA/TGH-capped CdTe QDs and their application in cell labeling.

PMID 25244429


A pH-sensitive and double functional nanoprobe was designed and synthesized in a water-soluble system using thioglycolic acid (TGA) and mercapto-acetohydrazide (TGH) as the stabilizers. TGA is biocompatible because the carboxyl group is easily linked to biological macromolecules. At the same time, the hydrazide on TGH reacts with the aldehyde on poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) and forms a hydrazone bond. The hydrazone bond ruptured at specific pH values and exhibited pH-stimuli-responsive characteristics. As an optical imaging probe, the PEG-TGA/TGH-capped CdTe quantum dots (QDs) had high quality, with a fluorescence efficiency of 25-30%, and remained stable for at least five months. This pH-responsive factor can be used for the effective release of CdTe QDs under the acidic interstitial extracellular environment of tumor cells. This allows the prepared pH-stimuli-responsive nanoprobes to show fluorescence signals for use in cancer cell imaging.