Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 411, Issue 5, pp 967–972 | Cite as

Rapid cancer diagnosis by highly fluorescent carbon nanodots-based imaging

  • Qianqian Duan
  • Mingxuan Che
  • Shengliang Hu
  • Haichao Zhao
  • Yi Li
  • Xingyi Ma
  • Wendong Zhang
  • Yixia Zhang
  • Shengbo SangEmail author


Carbon dots (Cdots) with bright green fluorescence were applied to the rapid and selective cell imaging for a variety of cell lines. Different labeling distributions of hepatoma cells (HepG2) and normal human liver cells (LO2) were achieved using Cdots as imaging agents. For HepG2 cells, the Cdots could rapidly permeate the cell membrane and diffuse into the cytoplasm and nucleus within 3 min, and retained their location in the targets for 24 h. However, the Cdots exhibited bright fluorescence only in the cytoplasm of LO2 cell lines. Moreover, the Cdots were almost non-cytotoxic and exhibited superior photostability over a wide range of pH. Therefore, these Cdots have great potential for rapid, luminous and selective bioimaging applications, and are expected to be used as a nucleus-staining agent in cancer diagnosis.

Graphical abstract


Carbon dots Selective fluorescence imaging Rapid nuclear targeting 



This work was supported by the Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51505324, 81602506, 61471255, 61474079), Basic Research Program of Shanxi for Youths (201701D221111, 201701D221110), research professor program of Korea University (141594) and China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2017 M621664).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

216_2018_1500_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (619 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 619 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qianqian Duan
    • 1
  • Mingxuan Che
    • 1
  • Shengliang Hu
    • 2
  • Haichao Zhao
    • 3
  • Yi Li
    • 4
  • Xingyi Ma
    • 1
    • 5
    • 6
  • Wendong Zhang
    • 1
  • Yixia Zhang
    • 1
    • 7
  • Shengbo Sang
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Micro-Nano System Research Centre & Key Lab of Advanced Transducers and Intelligent Control System of the Ministry of Education, College of Information and ComputerTaiyuan University of TechnologyTaiyuanChina
  2. 2.School of Energy and Power EngineeringNorth University of ChinaTaiyuanChina
  3. 3.Department of General SurgeryShanxi Medical University, Shanxi Dayi HospitalTaiyuanChina
  4. 4.Theranostic Macromolecules Research Center, School of Chemical EngineeringSungkyunkwan UniversitySuwonRepublic of Korea
  5. 5.Shenhua Pharmaceutical Co., LtdJinhuChina
  6. 6.Department of Chemical & Biological EngineeringKorea UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea
  7. 7.Institute of Applied Mechanics and Biomedical Engineering & National Demonstration Centre for Experimental Mechanics Education, College of MechanicsTaiyuan University of TechnologyTaiyuanChina

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