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In this study, we report the preparation, luminescence, and targeting properties of folic acid-CdTe quantum dot conjugates. Water-soluble CdTe quantum dots were synthesized and conjugated with folic acid using 1-ethyl-3-(3-dimethylaminopropyl) carbodiimide-N-hydroxysuccinimide chemistry. The influence of folic acid on the luminescence properties of CdTe quantum dots was investigated, and no energy transfer between them was observed. To investigate the efficiency of folic acid-CdTe nanoconjugates for tumor targeting, pure CdTe quantum dots and folic acid-coated CdTe quantum dots were incubated with human nasopharyngeal epidermal carcinoma cell line with positive expressing folic acid receptors (KB cells) and lung cancer cells without expression of folic acid receptors (A549 cells). For the cancer cells with positive folate receptors (KB cells), the uptake for CdTe quantum dots is very low, but for folic acid-CdTe nanoconjugates, the uptake is very high. For the lung cancer cells without folate receptors (A549 cells), the uptake for folic acid-CdTe nanoconjugates is also very low. The results indicate that folic acid is an effective targeting molecule for tumor cells with overexpressed folate receptors.
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