Facile synthesis of functional gadolinium-doped CdTe quantum dots for tumor-targeted fluorescence and magnetic resonance dual-modality imaging
Magnetic quantum dots (MQDs) are an important class of agents for fluorescence (FL)/magnetic resonance (MR) dual-modal imaging due to their excellent optical and magnetic properties. However, functional MQDs prepared by a simple room-temperature route as FL/MR dual-modal imaging probes are lacking. Herein, we report the fabrication of Gd-doped CdTe quantum dots (Gd:CdTe QDs) as an agent for FL/MR dual-modality imaging. The as-designed QDs with an ultrasmall particle size are synthesized by a facile one-pot aqueous synthesis approach at room temperature. They emit strong fluorescence at 640 nm with a quantum yield of 37% in water, and they have a high longitudinal relaxation rate (r1) value of 3.27 mM−1 s−1. With the further conjugation of folic acid, the Gd:CdTe QDs can successfully label live HepG2 cells for targeted cellular imaging and present no evidence of cellular toxicity up to the concentration of 0.5 mg mL−1. They have been employed as a suitable contrast agent successfully for tumor-targeted FL/MR dual-modal imaging in a mouse model.