With unique optical properties and versatile surface chemistry, cadmium-containing
quantum dots (Cd-QDs) have attracted extensive attention for drug delivery in the field of
biomedicine. However, Cd-QDs applications are currently restricted in cells and small animals due to
their uncertain biological fate and potential toxicity. Consequently, the long-term fate of Cd-QDs and
their interaction with biological systems need to be explored for the development of the clinical
applications of Cd-QDs as nanomedicines. This review succinctly described recent progress in functionalized Cd-QDs for
the design as multifunctional drug delivery system and advanced findings on the interactions of Cd-QDs with biological
systems at the level of living systems, cells and biomacromolecules. This knowledge could provide suggestions to
improve the delivery performance and biocompatibility of Cd-QDs as well as better understand the potential side effects
of Cd-QDs in in vivo applications. In addition, attention was laid on exploring the similarities and discrepancy of their
toxicological results at the three levels to comprehensively interpret the potential carcinogenicity of Cd-QDs and deeply
understand the associated mechanism.
Keywords: Cadmium, cancer, multifunctional drug delivery system, nanoparticles, quantum dots, toxicity.
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