Herein, we prepared dual-stabilizer-capped CuInZnS/ZnS (CIZS/ZnS) quantum dots (QDs) in aqueous media via hydrothermal routes. On using the combination of poly (styrenesulfonic acid-co maleic acid) and glutathione stabilizers, we found that dual stabilizers effectively coat the surface of CIZS/ZnS QDs, resulting in high quantum yields and carboxylic acid groups that conjugate with various materials. To demonstrate their potential biomedical application, the dual-stabilizer-capped CIZS/ZnS QDs were conjugated with 3-aminophenylboronic acid, termed CIZS/ZnS@APBA, for HeLa tumor cell labeling. In vitro and in vivo assessments using HeLa cells and zebrafish embryos, respectively, revealed that these CIZS/ZnS@APBA nanoprobes exhibit low cytotoxicity under our experimental conditions. Confocal scanning laser imaging demonstrated that the nanoprobes can be efficiently internalized and are localized in the cytoplasm of HeLa cells. This work reveals the potential for use of CIZS/ZnS@APBA as a safe and effective targeted probe for in vivo imaging of cancer.
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