Transfer of quantum dots from pregnant mice to pups across the placental barrier

Maoquan Chu, Qiang Wu, Hui Yang, Ruiqi Yuan, Shengke Hou, Yifeng Yang, Yajuan Zou, Shi Xu, Kaiyi Xu, Ailing Ji, Lingyi Sheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

152 Citations (Scopus)


Fluorescent quantum dots (QDs) have great potential for in vivo biomedical imaging and diagnostic applications. However, these nanoparticles are composed of heavy metals and are very small in diameter, and their possible toxicity must therefore be considered. As yet, no studies have reported the transfer of QDs between mother and fetus. The transfer of CdTe/CdS QDs of different sizes and dosages, and with different outer capping materials, from pregnant mice to fetuses is investigated. It is shown that QDs may be transferred from female mice to their fetuses across the placental barrier. Smaller QDs are more easily transferred than larger QDs and the number of QDs transferred increases with increasing dosage. Capping with an inorganic silica shell or organic polyethylene glycol reduces QD transfer but does not eliminate it. These results suggest that the clinical utility of QDs could be limited in pregnant women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)670-678
Number of pages9
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 8 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomedicine
  • Nanoparticle toxicity
  • Placental barrier transfer
  • Quantum dots

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science


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