Differential Immunomodulatory Effect of Carbon Dots Influenced by the Type of Surface Passivation Agent

  • Furkan AyazEmail author
  • Melis Ozge Alas
  • Rukan GencEmail author
Original Article


Carbon nanodots (CDs) are often synthesized from natural sources including honey, molasses, fruits, and foods, and plant extracts simply through caramelization. They have wide biological applications especially as drug delivery vehicles and bioimaging agent due to their small size and biocompatibility. This article details the synthesis of carbon dots from carob and its derivatives by surface passivation with polyethylene glycol (PEG), polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), and alginate (ALG). We investigated the immune response against CDs and evaluated the effect of surface passivation agents on their immunomodulatory functions. CDPVA had strong anti-inflammatory activities, whereas CDALG were pro-inflammatory. CDPEG had mild anti-inflammatory activities suggesting that these CDs can be used in the drug delivery studies as inert carriers. These results showed that depending on the type of activated groups dominated on the surface, CDs exerted differential effects on the inflammatory potential of the macrophages by changing the pro-inflammatory TNFα and IL6 production levels.


carbon dots macrophage anti-inflammatory molecules immunomodulation adjuvants immunotherapy 



Carbon dot




Polyethylene glycol


Polyvinyl alcohol


Tumor necrosis factor-α


Interleukin 6

RAW 264.7

Mouse macrophage cell line


Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay





Authors greatly appreciate the material support of Prof. Dr. Juan Anguita from CICBiogune. M.O. A. thanks to the graduate scholarship from the Council of Higher Education.

Authors’ Contributions

F.A. and R.G. designed the study. M.O.A synthesized and characterized CDs. F.A performed the in vitro studies on macrophages. F.A and R.G analyzed the data and wrote the paper with input from all authors.

Funding Information

This study was supported by 2017–2-AP-4-2506 BAP Project of Mersin University.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict(s) of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2020
corrected publication 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiotechnologyFaculty of Arts and ScienceMersinTurkey
  2. 2.Department of Chemical EngineeringFaculty of EngineeringMersinTurkey

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