Fluorescently labeled cellulose nanofibers for environmental health and safety studies

Ilabahen Patel, Jeremiah Woodcock, Ryan Beams, Stephan J. Stranick, Ryan Nieuwendaal, Jeffrey W. Gilman, Marina R. Mulenos, Christie M. Sayes, Maryam Salari, Glen Deloid, Philip Demokritou, Bryan Harper, Stacey Harper, Kimberly J. Ong, Jo Anne Shatkin, Douglas M. Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


An optimal methodology for locating and tracking cellulose nanofibers (CNFs) in vitro and in vivo is crucial to evaluate the environmental health and safety properties of these nano-materials. Here, we report the use of a new boron‐dipyrromethene (BODIPY) reactive fluorescent probe, meso‐DichlorotriazineEthyl BODIPY (mDTEB), tailor‐made for labeling CNFs used in sim-ulated or in vivo ingestion exposure studies. Time‐correlated single photon counting (TCSPC) fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) was used to confirm covalent attachment and purity of mDTEB‐labeled CNFs. The photoluminescence properties of mDTEB‐labeled CNFs, characterized using fluorescence spectroscopy, include excellent stability over a wide pH range (pH2 to pH10) and high quantum yield, which provides detection at low (μM) concentrations. FLIM analysis also showed that lignin‐like impurities present on the CNF reduce the fluorescence of the mDTEB‐labeled CNF, via quenching. Therefore, the chemical composition and the methods of CNF production affect subsequent studies. An in vitro triculture, small intestinal, epithelial model was used to assess the toxicity of ingested mDTEB‐labeled CNFs. Zebrafish (Danio rerio) were used to assess in vivo environmental toxicity studies. No cytotoxicity was observed for CNFs, or mDTEB-labeled CNFs, either in the triculture cells or in the zebrafish embryos.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1015
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Materials Science


  • Cellulose nanomaterials
  • Fluorescence
  • Toxicity
  • Trace labeling


Dive into the research topics of 'Fluorescently labeled cellulose nanofibers for environmental health and safety studies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this