In vitro cytotoxic effects of modified zinc oxide quantum dots on breast cancer cell lines (MCF7), colon cancer cell lines (HT29) and various fungi

  • Zahra Fakhroueian
  • Alireza Mozafari Dehshiri
  • Fatemeh Katouzian
  • Pegah Esmaeilzadeh
Research Paper


An important ideal objective of this study was to perform surface functionalization of fine (1–3 nm) ZnO quantum dot nanoparticles (QD NPs) in order to inhibit decomposition and agglomeration of nanoparticles in aqueous media. Polymers, oily herbal fatty acids, PEG (polyethylene glycol), and organosilanes are the main reagents used in these reactions, because they are completely soluble in water, and can be used as biological probes in nanomedicine. Vegetable fatty acid-capped ZnO (QD NPs) was fabricated by dissolving at a suitable pH after sol–gel method in the presence of nonionic surfactants as efficient templates with a particular HLB (hydrophilic-lipophilic balance) value (9.7 and 8.2). In the present research, we focused on the cellular toxicity of fine zinc oxide QD NPs containing particular blue fluorescence for targeted delivery of MCF7 and HT29 cancer cell lines. The IC50 values were determined as 10.66 and 5.75 µg/ml for MCF7 and HT29, respectively. These findings showed that ZnO QDs have low toxicity in normal cells (MDBK) and can display potential application in cancer chemotherapy in the near future. These properties could result in the generation of a promising candidate in the field of nanobiomedicine. The robust-engineered ZnO QD NPs showed their antibacterial and antifungal activities against Bacillus anthracis, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumonia, and Staphylococcus epidermidis bacteria and also different fungi such as Microsporum gypseum, Microsporum canis, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, Candida albicans, and Candida tropicalis, compared with the standard antibiotic agents like Gentamicin and Clotrimazol.


ZnO quantum dots Surface modification Breast cancer lines MCF7 Colon cancer cell lines HT29 Cytotoxic MDBK test Selective toxicity Antifungal drug Anticancer 



The authors wish to express our sincere and deep gratitude to Professor Dr. A. Shafiekhani in physics, Professor Dr. A. Vatani for incessant encouragements and spiritual supports. Also, authors would like to thank Mr. F. Harsini for great aids to our scientific research area.


  1. Arora S, Rajwade JM, Paknikar KM (2012) Nanotoxicology and in vitro studies: the need of the hour. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 258(2):151–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ballantyne B, Marrs TC, Syversen T (1999) General and applied toxicology, 2nd edn. Grove’s Dictionaries, Inc, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. Chen T, Zhao T, Wei D, Wei Y, Li Y, Zhang H (2013) Core–shell nanocarriers with ZnO quantum dots-conjugated Au nanoparticle for tumor-targeted drug delivery. Carbohydr Polym 92(2):1124–1132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Colon G, Ward BC, Webster TJ (2006) Increased osteoblast and decreased Staphylococcus epidermidis functions on nanophase ZnO and TiO2. J Biomed Mater Res A 78(3):595–604CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Emami-Karvani Z, Chehrazi P (2011) Antibacterial activity of ZnO nanoparticle on gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. Afr J Microbiol Res 5(12):1368–1373Google Scholar
  6. Fakhroueian Z, Harsini FM, Chalabian F, Katouzian F, Shafiekhani A, Esmaeilzadeh P (2013) Influence of modified ZnO quantum dots and nanostructures as new antibacterials. Adv in Nanopart 2:247–258CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Farokhzad OC, Jon S, Khademhosseini A, Tran TN, Lavan DA, Langer R (2004) Nanoparticle-aptamer bioconjugates: a new approach for targeting prostate cancer cells. Cancer Res 64(21):7668–7672CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Guo D, Wu C, Jiang H, Li Q, Wang X, Chen B (2008) Synergistic cytotoxic effect of different sized ZnO nanoparticles and daunorubicin in against leukemia cancer cells under UV irradiation. J Photochem Photobiol B Biol 93(3):119–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hanley C, Layne J, Punnoose A, Reddy KM, Coombs I, Coombs A, Feris K, Wingett D (2008) Preferential killing of cancer cells and activated human T cells using ZnO nanoparticles. Nanotechnology 19(29):295103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. He L, Liu Y, Mustapha A, Lin M (2011) Antifungal activity of zinc oxide nanoparticles against Botrytis cinerea and Penicillium expansum. Microbiol Res 166(3):207–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Jeng HA, Swanson J (2006) Toxicity of metal oxide nanoparticles in mammalian cells. J Environ Sci Health A 41(12):2699–2711CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kumar P, Kumar P, Deep A, Bharadwaj LM (2013) Synthesis and conjugation of ZnO nanoparticles with bovine serum albumin for biological applications. Appl Nanosci 3(2):141–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Mckane L, Kandel J (1985) Microbiology; essentials and application. McGraw-Hill, New York, pp 134–151, 630–631Google Scholar
  14. Medoff G, Valeriote F, Dieckman J (1981) Potentiation of anticancer agents by amphotericin B. J Natl Cancer Inst 67(1):131–135Google Scholar
  15. Mosmann T (1983) Rapid colorimetric assay for cellular growth and survival: application to proliferation and cytotoxicity assays. J Immunolo Methods 65(1–2):55–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Nair S, Sasidharan A, Rani VVD, Menon D, Nair S, Manzoor K, Raina S (2009) Rol of size scale of ZnO nanoparticles and microparticles on toxicity toward bacteria and osteoblast cancer cells. J Mater Sci Mater Med 20:S235–S241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ostrovsky S, Kazimirsky G, Gedanken A, Brodie C (2009) Selective cytotoxic effect of ZnO nanoparticles on glioma cells. Nano Res 2(11):882–890CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Premanathan M, Karthikeyan K, Jeyasubramanian K, Manivannan G (2011) Selective toxicity of ZnO nanoparticles toward Gram-positive bacteria and cancer cells by apoptosis through lipid peroxidation. Nanomed Nanotechnol Biol Med 7(2):184–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Remington (1995) The Science and Practice Pharmacy, Alfonso R Gennaro. Vol 2, 19th edn. Mack Publishing Co. Easton, Pennsylvania 18042, pp 1327Google Scholar
  20. Shargel L, Mutnick AH, Souney PF, Swanson LN (2004) Comprehensive pharmacy review, 5th edn. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia, pp 845–847Google Scholar
  21. Sharma D, Rajput J, Kaith BS, Kaur M, Sharma S (2010) Synthesis of ZnO nanoparticles and study of their antibacterial and antifungal properties. Thin Solid Films 519(3):1224–1229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Shen W, Xiong H, Xu Y, Cai S, Lu H, Yang P (2008) ZnO-poly(methyl methacrylate) nanobeads for enriching and desalting low-abundant proteins followed by directly MALDI-TOF MS analysis. Anal Chem 80(17):6758–6763CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Sudhagar S, Sathya S, Pandian K, Lakshmi BS (2011) Targeting and sensing cancer cells with ZnO nanoprobes in vitro. Biotechnol Lett 33(9):1891–1896CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Taccola L, Raffa V, Riggio C, Vittorio O, Iorio MC, Vanacore R, Pietrabissa A, Cuschieri A (2011) Zinc oxide nanoparticles as selective killers of proliferating cells. Int J Nanomed 6:1129–1140Google Scholar
  25. Thurber A, Wingett DG, Rasmussen JW, Layne J, Johnson L, Tenne DA, Zhang J, Hanna CB, Punnoose A (2012) Improving the selective cancer killing ability of ZnO nanoparticles using Fe doping. Nanotoxicology 6(4):440–452CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Valeriote F, Dieckman J, Flentje D, Flentje M, Medoff G (1984) Potentiation by amphotericin B of the cytotoxicity of anticancer agents against MOPC-315 plasmacytoma and lewis lung carcinoma. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol 13(2):126–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Vandebriel RJ, Jong WHD (2012) A review of mammalian toxicity of ZnO nanoparticles. Nanotechnol Sci Appl 5:61–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Xiong G, Pal U, Serrano JG (2007) Correlations among size, defects, and photoluminescence in ZnO nanoparticles. J Appl Phys 101(2):024317-1–024317-6Google Scholar
  29. Yousef JM, Danial EN (2012) In vitro antibacterial activity and minimum inhibitory concentration of zinc oxide and nanoparticle zinc oxide against pathogenic strains. J Health Sci 2(4):38–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Yuan Q, Hein S, Misra RDK (2010) New generation of chitosan-encapsulated ZnO quantum dots loaded with drug: synthesis, characterization and in vitro drug delivery response. Acta Biomater 6(7):2732–2739CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Zaini F, Mehbod ASA, Emami M (1999) Comprehensive medical mycology, 1st edn. Tehran university publishing, Tehran, pp 450–453Google Scholar
  32. Zhang Y, Chen W, Wang S, Liu Y, Pope C (2008) Phototoxicity of zinc oxide nanoparticle conjugates in human ovarian cancer NIH: OVCAR-3 cells. J Biomed Nanotechnol 4(4):432–438CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zahra Fakhroueian
    • 1
  • Alireza Mozafari Dehshiri
    • 2
  • Fatemeh Katouzian
    • 3
  • Pegah Esmaeilzadeh
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Chemical Engineering, College of EngineeringUniversity of TehranTehranIran
  2. 2.Department of Traditional Pharmacy, Faculty of Traditional MedicineShahid Beheshti University of Medical SciencesTehranIran
  3. 3.Microbiology DepartmentAzad University of Pharmaceutical ScienceTehranIran
  4. 4.Biomedical Materials Group, Institute of PharmacyMartin Luther UniversityHalle-WittenbergGermany

Personalised recommendations