International journal of environmental research and public health

Threshold Dose of Three Types of Quantum Dots (QDs) Induces Oxidative Stress Triggers DNA Damage and Apoptosis in Mouse Fibroblast L929 Cells.

PMID 26516873


Although it has been reported that fluorescent quantum dots (QDs) have obvious acute toxic effects in vitro, their toxic effects at low doses or threshold doses are still unknown. Therefore, we evaluated the biological histocompatibility and in vitro toxicity of three types of QDs at threshold doses. Also, we compared the toxic effects of QDs with different raw chemical compositions and sizes. The results showed that low concentrations of QDs (≤7 μg/mL) had no obvious effect on cell viability and cell membrane damage, oxidative damage, cell apoptosis or DNA damage. However, QD exposure led to a significant cytotoxicity at higher doses (≥14 μg/mL) and induced abnormal cellular morphology. In addition, when comparing the three types of QDs, 2.2 nm CdTe QDs exposure showed a significantly increased proportion of apoptotic cells and significant DNA damage, suggesting that size and composition contribute to the toxic effects of QDs. Based on these discussions, it was concluded that the concentration (7 μg/mL) may serve as a threshold level for these three types of QDs only in L929 fibroblasts, whereas high concentrations (above 14 μg/mL) may be toxic, resulting in inhibition of proliferation, induction of apoptosis and DNA damage in L929 fibroblasts.