NIR Emitting Nanoprobes Based on Cyclic RGD Motif Conjugated PbS Quantum Dots for Integrin-Targeted Optical Bioimaging

N. Depalo, M. Corricelli, I. De Paola, G. Valente, R. M. Iacobazzi, E. Altamura, D. Debellis, D. Comegna, E. Fanizza, N. Denora, V. Laquintana, F. Mavelli, M. Striccoli, M. Saviano, A. Agostiano, A. Del Gatto, L. Zaccaro, M. L. Curri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Here, silica-coated PbS quantum dots (QDs) with photoluminescence emission properties in the near-infrared (NIR) region are proposed as potential effective single particle optical nanoprobes for future in vivo imaging of tumors. The dispersibility in aqueous medium of hydrophobic PbS QDs was accomplished by growing a silica shell on their surface by exploiting a base assisted water-in-oil microemulsion method. The silica-coated PbS QDs were then conjugated with a specifically designed cyclic arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (cRGD) peptide that is able to specifically recognize αvβ3 integrins, which are overexpressed in angiogenic tumor-induced vasculatures and on some solid tumors, to achieve tumor-specific targeting. The cRGD peptide PbS silica-coated QDs were systematically characterized, at each step of their preparation, by means of complementary optical and structural techniques, demonstrating appropriate colloidal stability and the maintenance of their optical futures in aqueous solutions. The cellular uptake of cRGD peptide functionalized luminescent nanostructures in human melanoma cells, where overexpression of αvβ3 was observed, was assessed by means of confocal microscopy analysis and cytometric study. The selectivity of the cRGD peptide PbS silica-coated QDs for the αvβ3 integrin was established, consequently highlighting the significant potential of the developed NIR emitting nanostructures as optically traceable nanoprobes for future αvβ3 integrin receptor in vivo targeting in the NIR region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43113-43126
Number of pages14
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number49
Publication statusPublished - Dec 13 2017


  • cyclic RGD peptide
  • NIR emitting quantum dots
  • silica-coated nanoprobes
  • targeted imaging
  • αvβ3 integrin receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)


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