Effect of injection routes on the biodistribution, clearance, and tumor uptake of carbon dots

Xinglu Huang, Fan Zhang, Lei Zhu, Ki Young Choi, Ning Guo, Jinxia Guo, Kenneth Tackett, Parambath Anilkumar, Gang Liu, Qimeng Quan, Hak Soo Choi, Gang Niu, Ya Ping Sun, Seulki Lee, Xiaoyuan Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The emergence of photoluminescent carbon-based nanomaterials has shown exciting potential in the development of benign nanoprobes. However, the in vivo kinetic behaviors of these particles that are necessary for clinical translation are poorly understood to date. In this study, fluorescent carbon dots (C-dots) were synthesized and the effect of three injection routes on their fate in vivo was explored by using both near-infrared fluorescence and positron emission tomography imaging techniques. We found that C-dots are efficiently and rapidly excreted from the body after all three injection routes. The clearance rate of C-dots is ranked as intravenous > intramuscular > subcutaneous. The particles had relatively low retention in the reticuloendothelial system and showed high tumor-to-background contrast. Furthermore, different injection routes also resulted in different blood clearance patterns and tumor uptakes of C-dots. These results satisfy the need for clinical translation and should promote efforts to further investigate the possibility of using carbon-based nanoprobes in a clinical setting. More broadly, we provide a testing blueprint for in vivo behavior of nanoplatforms under various injection routes, an important step forward toward safety and efficacy analysis of nanoparticles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5684-5693
Number of pages10
JournalACS Nano
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 23 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • biodistribution
  • carbon dots
  • clearance
  • injection routes
  • translation
  • tumor uptake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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