A Fluorescent Vector of Carbon Dot to Deliver Rab13 and Rab14 Plasmids for Promoting Neurite Outgrowth

Yung Chin Huang, Jian Zong Lai, Ching Lung Luo, Chia Cheng Chuang, Tzu Chau Lin, Po Hsiang Wang, Fan Ching Chien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The complex processes of neuron differentiation and neuron repair are critical for treating nervous system injuries and neurodegenerative diseases. Neurite outgrowth plays a crucial role in these processes by enabling the formation of connections between neurons and the generation of neuroplasticity to restore the function of the nervous system. In this study, we fabricated functionalized carbon dots (CDs) with distinctive photoluminescence and low cytotoxicity for use as fluorescence imaging probes and nanocarriers to deliver plasmid DNAs to neurons effectively for inducing neurite outgrowth. CDs were prepared through a reflux process in nitric acid solution, and their surface was then modified using polyethylenimine (PEI) to obtain positively charged CDs for increasing the absorption of plasmid DNAs and the efficiency of cell uptake. Experimental results indicated that the fabricated CDs maintained a low cytotoxicity and exhibited a high neuron uptake of up to 97%. An improvement in the plasmid DNA ingestion of neurons resulted in enhanced expression of Rab13-Q67L and Rab14 proteins, which considerably promoted neurite sprouting and elongation. After the fabricated PEI-modified CDs were used to deliver the Rab13-Q67L and Rab14 plasmids, more than 56% of the neurons had a neurite length that was greater than twice the size of their soma. Thus, DNA delivery through functionalized CDs has a high potential for use in gene therapy for neuronal injuries and diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3739-3749
Number of pages11
JournalACS Applied Bio Materials
Issue number9
StatePublished - 18 Sep 2023


  • Rab13
  • Rab14
  • carbon dots
  • fluorescence imaging probes
  • nanocarriers
  • neurite outgrowth
  • plasmid DNA delivery


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