Science China Life Sciences

, Volume 56, Issue 2, pp 181–188 | Cite as

In vivo skin penetration and metabolic path of quantum dots

  • Lei Tang
  • ChunLing Zhang
  • GuangMing Song
  • Xun Jin
  • ZhongWei Xu
Open Access
Research Paper


The skin is the largest organ of the body and is a potential route of exposure to sunscreens and cosmetics containing nanoparticles; however, the permeability of the skin to these nanoparticles is currently unknown. In this paper, we studied the transdermal delivery capacity through mouse skin of water-soluble CdSeS quantum dots (QDs) and the deposition of these QDs in the body. QD solution was coated onto the dorsal hairless skin of male ICR mice. Fluorescence microscopy and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) were used to observe the distribution of QDs in the skin and organs, and inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) was used to measure the 111Cd content to indicate the concentration of QDs in plasma and organs. Experimental results indicate that QDs can penetrate into the dermal layer and are limited to the uppermost stratum corneum layers and the hair follicles. Through blood circulation, QDs deposit mostly in liver and kidney and are difficult to clear. 111Cd concentration was greater than 14 ng g−1 in kidney after 120 h after 0.32 nmol QDs was applied to a mouse. These results suggest that QDs have in vivo transdermal delivery capacity through mouse skin and are harmful to the liver and kidney.


quantum dots nanoparticles skin penetration metabolism ICP-MS 


  1. 1.
    Gao X H, Cui Y Y, Levenson R M, et al. In vivo cancer targeting and imaging with semiconductor quantum dots. Nat Biotechnol, 2004, 22: 969–976PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Serpone N, Emeline A V. Modelling heterogeneous photocatalysis by metal-oxide nanostructured semiconductor and insulator materials: factors that affect the activity and selectivity of photocatalysts. Res Chem Intermed, 2005, 31: 391–432CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Chen X, Schluesener H J. Nanosliver: a nanoproduct in medical application. Toxicol Lett, 2008, 176: 1–12PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Hardman R. A toxicologic review of quantum dots: toxicity depends on physicochemical and environmental factors. Environ Health, 2006, 114: 165–170Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Michalet X, Pinaud F F, Bentolila L A, et al. Quantum dots for live cells, in vivo imaging, and diagnostics. Science, 2005, 307: 538–544PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Cho S J, Maysinger D, Jain M, et al. Long-term exposure to CdTe quantum dots causes functional impairments in live cells. Langmuir, 2007, 23: 1974–1980PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Hoshino A, Fujioka K, Oku T, et al. Physicochemical properties and cellular toxicity of nanocrystal quantum dots depend on their surface modification. Nano Lett, 2004, 4: 2163–2169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Kirchner C, Liedl T, Kudera S, et al. Cytotoxicity of colloidal CdSe and CdSe/ZnS nanoparticles. Nano Lett, 2005, 5: 331–338PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Leshuai W Z, William W Y, Vicki L C, et al. Biological interactions of quantum dot nanoparticles in skin and in human epidermal keratinocytes. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol, 2008, 228: 200–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Luke J M, Gunter O, Alice P P, et al. In vivo skin penetration of quantum dot nanoparticles in the murine model: the effect of UVR. Nano Lett, 2008, 8: 2779–2787CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Upadhyay P. Enhanced transdermal-immunization with diptheria-toxoid using local hyperthermia. Vaccine, 2006, 24: 5593–5598PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Mosmann T. Rapid colorimetric assay for cellular growth and survival: application to proliferation and cytotoxicity assays. J Immunol Methods, 1983, 65: 55–63PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Chu M Q, Wu Q, Wang J, et al. In vitro and in vivo transdermal delivery capacity of quantum dots through mouse skin. Nanotechnology, 2007, 18: 455103–455108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Alvarez-Roman R, Naik A, Kalia Y N, et al. Skin penetration and distribution of polymeric nanoparticles. J Contr Release, 2004, 99: 53–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Kohli A K, Alpar H O. Potential use of nanoparticles for transcutaneous vaccine delivery: effect of particle size and charge. Int J Pharm, 2004, 275: 13–17PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Chen Z, Chen H, Meng H, et al. Bio-distribution and metabolic paths of silica coated CdSeS quantum dots. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol, 2008, 230: 364–371PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Lademann J, Weigmann H, Rickmeyer C, et al. Penetration of titanium dioxide microparticles in a sunscreen formulation into the horny layer and the follicular orifice. Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol, 1999, 12: 247–256PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Baroli B, Ennas M G, Loffredo F, et al. Penetration of metallic nanoparticles in human full-thickness skin. J Invest Dermatol, 2007, 127: 1701–1712PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Nemmar A, Hoet P H M, Vanqtdckeuborne B, et al. Passage of inhaled particles into the blood circulation in humans. Circulation, 2002, 105: 411–414PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Oberdörster E. Manufactured nanomaterials (fullerenes, C60) induce oxidative stress in the brain of juvenile largemouth bass. Environ Health Persp, 2004, 112: 1058–1062CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Oberdörster G, Sharp Z, Atudorei V, et al. Translocation of inhaled ultrafine particles to the brain. Inhalat Toxicol, 2004, 16: 437–445CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Fischer H C, Liu L, Pang K S, et al. Pharmacokinetics of nanoscale quantum dots: in vivo distribution, sequestration, and clearance in the rat. Adv Funct Mater, 2006, 16: 1299–1305CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lei Tang
    • 1
  • ChunLing Zhang
    • 2
  • GuangMing Song
    • 1
  • Xun Jin
    • 1
  • ZhongWei Xu
    • 1
  1. 1.Logistics University of Chinese People’s Armed Police ForceTianjinChina
  2. 2.College of Physics ScienceNankai UniversityTianjinChina

Personalised recommendations