Quantum Dot Loaded Liposomes As Fluorescent Labels for Immunoassay

Liposomes loaded with water-soluble and water-insoluble quantum dots (QD) were for the first time applied as labels in different heterogeneous immunoassays for the determination of food contaminants, using mycotoxin zearalenone (ZEN) as a model. A great deal of work was devoted to the optimal choice of phospholipids for the liposomes preparation and to the factors which are important for the stability and size of obtained liposomes. Thin-film hydration and reverse-phase evaporation techniques were evaluated in terms of stability of the obtained liposomes and their efficiency for QD loading. Conjugation of liposomes with proteins and the influence of cross-linkers to the nonspecific interaction of the obtained liposomes with the surface of microtiter plates and cartridges were investigated and 3-(2-pyridyldithio)­propionic acid N-hydroxysuccinimide ester was found as the optimal cross-linker. The limits of detection (LOD) for ZEN of fluorescence-labeled immunosorbent assays were 0.6 μg kg–1, 0.08 μg kg–1, and 0.02 μg kg–1, using QD, liposomes loaded with water-soluble QD, and water-insoluble QD, respectively. Similarly, the developed qualitative on-site tests using the different QD labels and taking into account the EU maximum residues level for ZEN in unprocessed cereals showed cutoff levels of 100, 50, and 20 μg kg–1.