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Fluorescence Detection of Bone Microcracks Using Monophosphonated Carbon Dots

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posted on 14.05.2018, 00:00 by Fatemeh Ostadhossein, Lily Benig, Indu Tripathi, Santosh K. Misra, Dipanjan Pan
Phosphonated compounds, in particular, bisanalogs are widely applied in clinical settings for the treatment of severe bone turnovers and recently as imaging probes when conjugated with organic fluorophores. Herein, we introduce a bone seeking luminescent probe that shows a high binding affinity toward bone minerals based on monophosphonated carbon dots (CDs). Spheroidal CDs tethered with PEG monophosphates are synthesized in a one-pot hydrothermal method and are physicochemically characterized, where the retention of phosphonates is confirmed by 13P NMR and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Interestingly, the high abundance of multiple monodentate phosphonates exhibited strong binding to hydroxyapatite, the main bone mineral constituent. The remarkable optophysical properties of monophosphonated CDs were confirmed in an ex vivo model of the bovine cortical bone where the imaging feasibility of microcracks, which are calcium-rich regions, was demonstrated. The in vivo studies specified the potential application of monophosphonated CDs for imaging when injected intramuscularly. The biodigestible nature and cytocompatibility of the probe presented here obviate the demand for a secondary fluorophore, while offering a nanoscale strategy for bone targeting and can eventually be employed for potential bone therapy in the future.