A comparative study about toxicity of CdSe quantum dots on reproductive system development of mice and controlling this toxicity by ZnS coverage

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Department of Physiology, Faculty of Basic Sciences, Shahrekord Branch, Islamic Azad University, Shahrekord, Iran

2 Department of Physics, Falavarjan Branch, Islamic Azad University, Isfahan, Iran

3 Department of Biology, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

4 Department of Physiology, Islamic Azad University, Khorasgan Branch, Isfahan, Iran

5 Department of Chemistry, Islamic Azad University, Shahrekord, Iran .

6 Department of Mathematics, Islamic Azad University, Shahrekord, Iran

7 Department of Mechanical Engineering, Payame Noor University, Tehran, Iran


Medicinal benefits of quantum dots have been proved in recent years but there is little known about their toxicity especially in vivo toxicity. In order to use quantum dots in medical applications, studies ontheir in vivo toxicity is important. 
Materials and Methods:
CdSe:ZnS quantum dots were injected in 10, 20, and 40 mg/kg doses to male mice10 days later, mice were sacrificed and five micron slides were prepared structural and optical properties of quantum dots were evaluated using XRD.  
Histological studies of testis tissue showed high toxic effect of CdSe:ZnS  in 40 mg/kg group. Histological studies of epididymis did not show any effect of quantum dots in terms of morphology and tube structure. Mean concentration of LH and testosterone and testis weight showed considerable changes in mice injected with 40 mg/kg dose of CdSe:ZnS compared to control group. However, FSH and body weight did not show any difference with control group. 
Although it has been reported that CdSe is highly protected from the environment by its shell, but  this study showed high toxicity for CdSe:ZnS when it is used in vivo which could be suggested that shell could contribute to increased toxicity of quantum dots. Considering lack of any previous study on this subject, our study could potentially be used as an basis for further extensive studies investigating the effects of quantum dots toxicity on development of male sexual system.


1. Amiri Gh. Fatahian S, Mahmoudi S , Preparation and Optical properties assessment of CdSe quantum dot, Dig Nanomater Bios. 2011; 4(2): 1161.
2. Bae PK , Kim KN, Lee SJ, Chang HJ, Lee CK, Park JK. The modification of quantum dot probes used for the targeted imaging of his-tagged fusion proteins. Biomaterials. 2008; 30(5): 836-842.
3. Chang SQ , Dai YD, Kang B, Han W, Mao L, Chen D. UV-enhanced cytotoxicity of thiol-capped CdTe quantum dots in human pancreatic carcinoma cells . Toxicol Lett. 2009; 188(2): 104-111.
4. Chan WC, Maxwell DJ, Gao X, Bailey RE, Han M, Nie S. Luminescent quantum dots for multiplexed biological detection and imaging. Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2002; 13(1): 40–46.
5. Chan WH , Shiao NH. Cytotoxic effect of CdSe quantum dots on mouse embryonic development. Mol Sci. 2008; 29(2): 259-266.
6. Clift MJ , Stone V. Quantum Dots: An Insight and Perspective of Their Biological Interaction and How This Relates to Their Relevance for Clinical Use. Theranostics; 2012; 2(7): 668-680.
7. Coolen L, Brokmann, Hermier. JP. Chapter 24-Quantum Optics with Single CdSe/ZnS Colloidal Nanocrystals. Handbook of Self Assembled Semiconductor Nanostructures for Novel Devices in Photonics and Electronics. 2008; 708–748.
8. Drbohlavova J , Adam V, Kizek R, Hubalek J. Quantum Dots-Characterization: Preparation and Usage in Biological Systems. Mol Sci. 2009; 10: 656–673.
9. Ema M , Kobayashi N, Naya M, Hanai S, Nakanishi J. Reproductive and developmental toxicity studies of manufactured nanomaterials. Reprod Toxicol. 2010; 30(3): 343–352.
10.  Galeone A, Vecchio G, Malvindi MA, Brunetti V, Cingolani R, Pompa PP. In vivo assessment of CdSe-ZnS quantum dots: coating dependent bioaccumulation and genotoxicity. Nanoscale. 2013; 4(20): 6401-6407.
11. Garcia TX, Costa GM, França LR, Hofmann MC. Sub-acute intravenous administration of silver nanoparticles in male mice alters Leydig cell function and testosterone levels. Reprod Toxicol. 2014; 45: 59-70.
12. Guo LL, Liu XH, Qin DX, Gao L, Zhang HM, Liu JY, Cui YG. Effects of nanosized titanium dioxide on the reproductive system of male mice.  Nan Ke Xue. 2009; 15(6): 517-522.
13. Hsieh MS, Shiao NH, Chan WH. Cytotoxic Effects of CdSe Quantum Dots on Maturation of Mouse Oocytes and Fertilization and Fetal Development. Mol Sci. 2009; 10(5): 2122 - 2135.
14. Jamiesona T, Bakhshia R, Petrovaa D, Pococka R and et al. Biological applications of quantum dots. Biomaterials. 2007; 28(3): 4717-4732.
15. Komatsu T , Tabata M, Kubo-Irie M, Shimizu T, Suzuki K, Nihei Y, Takeda K. The effects of nanoparticles on mouse testis Leydig cells in vitro. Toxicol In Vitro. 2008; 22(8): 1825-1831.
16. Li C , Taneda S, Taya K, Watanabe G, Li X, Fujitani Y, Nakajima T, Suzuki AK. Effects of in utero exposure to nanoparticle-rich diesel exhaust on testicular function in immature male rats. Toxicol Lett. 2009; 185(1): 1–8.
17. Li KG , Chen JT, Bai SS, Wen X, Song SY, Yu Q, Li J, Wang YQ. Intracellular oxidative stress and cadmium ions release induce cytotoxicity of unmodified cadmium sulfide quantum dots . Toxicol In Vitro.2009; 23(6): 1007-1013.
18. Mathias FT , Romano RM, Kizys MM, Kasamatsu T, Giannocco G, Chiamolera MI, Dias-da-Silva MR, Romano MA. Daily exposure to silver nanoparticles during prepubertal development decreases adult sperm and reproductive parameters. Nanotoxicology. 2014; 9(1): 64-70.
19. Muller L, Gasser M, Raemy DO, Herzog F, Brandenberger C, Schmid O, Gehr P, Rothen-Rutishauser B, Clift MJD. Realistic exposure methods for investigating the interaction of nanoparticles with the lung at the air-liquid interface in vitro. Theranostics. 2011; 1(1): 30-64.
20. Ono N, Oshio S, Niwata Y, Yoshida S, Tsukue N, Sugawara I, Takano H, Takeda K. Prenatal exposure to diesel exhaust impairs mouse spermatogenesis. Inhal Toxicol. 2007; 19: 275-281.
21. Pan Z, Mora-Sero I, Shen Q, Zhang H, Li Y, Zhao K, Wang J, Zhong X, Bisquert J. High Efficiency "Green" Quantum Dot Solar Cells. Am Chem Soc. 136(25):9203-10.
22. Pinaud F , Michalet X, Bentolila LA, Tsay JM, Doose S, Li JJ, Iyer G, Weiss S. Advances in fluorescence imaging with quantum dot bio-probes. Biomaterials. 2006; 27(9): 1679-1687.
23. Roberts JR, Antonini JM, Porter DW, Chapman RS, Scabilloni JF, Young SH, Schwegler-Berry D, Castranova V, Mercer RR. Lung toxicity and biodistribution of Cd/Se-ZnS quantum dots with different surface functional groups after pulmonary exposure in rats. Part Fibre Toxicol. 2013; 10.
24. Rzigalinski BA, Strobl JS. Cadmium-containing nanoparticles: Perspectives on pharmacology and toxicology of quantum dots. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2009; 238(3): 280-288.
25. Smith AM , Duan H, Mohs AM, Nie S. Bioconjugated quantum dots for in vivo molecular and cellular imaging. Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2008; 60(11): 1226-1240.
26. Shimizu M, Tainaka H, Oba T, Mizuo K, Umezawa M, Takeda K. Maternal exposure to nanoparticle titanium dioxide during the prenatal period alters gene expression related to brain development in the mouse. Part Fibre Toxicol. 2009; 6(20): 1-25.
27. Sleiman HK, Romano RM, Oliveira CA, Romano MA. Effects of prepubertal exposure to silver nanoparticles on reproductive parameters in adult male Wistar rats. Toxicol Environ Health A. 2013; 76(17):1023-32.
28. Soenen SJ, Manshian B, Aubert T, Himmelreich U, Demeester J, De Smedt SC, Hens Z, Braeckmans K. Cytotoxicity of cadmium-free quantum dots and their use for cell bioimaging. Chem Res Toxicol. 2014; 27(6):1050-9.
29. Su Y, He Y, Lu H, Sai L, Li Q, Li W, Wang L, Shen P, Huang Q, Fan C. The cytotoxicity of cadmium based, aqueous phase-Synthesized quantum dots and its modulation by surface coating. Biomaterials. 2009; 30(1): 19–25.
30. Takeda K, Suzuki K, Ishihara A, Kubo-Irie M, Fujimoto R, Tabata M, et al. Nanoparticles transferred from pregnant mice to their offspring can damage the genital and cranial nerve system. Health Sci. 2009; 55(1): 95-102.
31. Wiwantitkit V, Sereemaspum A, Rojanathanes R. Effect of gold nanoparticles on spermatozoa: the first world report. Fertil Steril. 2009; 91(1): 7-8.
32. Yoshida S1, Hiyoshi K, Oshio S, Takano H, Takeda K, Ichinose T. Effects of fetal exposure to carbon nanoparticles on reproductive function in offspring . Fertil Steril. 2010, 93(5): 1695-1699.
33. Yoshida S , Hiyoshi K, Ichinose T, Takano H, Oshio S, Sugawara I, Takeda K, Shibamoto T. Effect of nanoparticles on the male reproductive system of mice. Androl. 2008; 32(4): 337-342.