Quantum dots have been used in biomedical research for imaging, diagnostics and sensing purposes. However, concerns over the cytotoxicity of their heavy metal constituents and conflicting results from in vitro and small animal toxicity studies have limited their translation towards clinical applications. Here, we show in a pilot study that rhesus macaques injected with phospholipid micelle-encapsulated CdSe/CdS/ZnS quantum dots do not exhibit evidence of toxicity. Blood and biochemical markers remained within normal ranges following treatment, and histology of major organs after 90 days showed no abnormalities. Our results show that acute toxicity of these quantum dots in vivo can be minimal. However, chemical analysis revealed that most of the initial dose of cadmium remained in the liver, spleen and kidneys after 90 days. This means that the breakdown and clearance of quantum dots is quite slow, suggesting that longer-term studies will be required to determine the ultimate fate of these heavy metals and the impact of their persistence in primates.
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
- Biomedical Engineering
- General Materials Science
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering