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WIREs Nanomed Nanobiotechnol
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Fluorescent nanoparticle probes for imaging of cancer

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Abstract Fluorescent nanoparticles (FNPs) have received immense popularity in cancer imaging in recent years because of their attractive optical properties. In comparison to traditional organic‐based fluorescent dyes and fluorescent proteins, FNPs offer much improved sensitivity and photostability. FNPs in certain size range have a strong tendency to enter and retain in solid tumor tissue with abnormal (leaky) vasculature—a phenomenon known as Enhanced Permeation and Retention (EPR) effect, advancing their use for in vivo tumor imaging. Furthermore, large surface area of FNPs and their usual core–shell structure offer a platform for designing and fabricating multimodal/multifunctional nanoparticles (MMNPs). For effective cancer imaging, often the optical imaging modality is integrated with other nonoptical‐based imaging modalities such as MRI, X‐ray, and PET, thus creating multimodal nanoparticle (NP)‐based imaging probes. Such multimodal NP probes can be further integrated with therapeutic drug as well as cancer targeting agent leading to multifunctional NPs. Biocompatibility of FNPs is an important criterion that must be seriously considered during FNP design. NP composition, size, and surface chemistry must be carefully selected to minimize potential toxicological consequences both in vitro and in vivo. In this article, we will mainly focus on three different types of FNPs: dye‐loaded NPs, quantum dots (Qdots), and phosphores; briefly highlighting their potential use in translational research. WIREs Nanomed Nanobiotechnol 2011 3 501–510 DOI: 10.1002/wnan.134 This article is categorized under: Diagnostic Tools > In Vivo Nanodiagnostics and Imaging

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Properties of fluorescent Qdots. (a) A schematic representation of size‐tunable emission properties of Qdots (emission wavelength increases with the increase of particle size); Qdots emitting in the visible range have comparable size with commonly used fluorescent proteins such as GFP and DsRed. (b) A comparison of fluorescence excitation and emission characteristics of Qdots and an organic fluorescent dye. Qdot (green color broken line) excitation spectrum is broader than that of an organic dye (rhodamine, orange color broken line). The emission spectrum of Qdot (solid green line) is narrower than that of organic dyes (rhodamine, solid orange line). Numerical values (in nanometer) showing the full spectral width at half‐maximum intensity. (Reprinted with permission from Ref 26. Copyright 2004 Elsevier).

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(a) Schematic illustration of design of a bimodal (fluorescent and paramagnetic) chitosan NPs (blue color, glycol chitosan shell; white color, inner part of chitosan NP). (b) Both fluorescence and T1‐weighted MR images simultaneously observed after 1 day post injection of Cy5.5 fluorescent dye and Gd(III)‐DOTA co‐labeled chitosan NPs (5 mg/kg). (Reprinted with permission from Ref 86. Copyright 2010 American Chemical Society).

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Demonstration of in vivo imaging of solid tumor and lymph nodes using fluorescent Qdots. (a) Red‐emitting Qdot–antibody conjugate targeted to prostate tumor in mouse model83 and (b) NIR‐emitting Qdots taken up by sentinel lymph nodes.84 (Reprinted with permission from Refs 83 and 84. Copyright 2004 Elsevier).

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Fluorescence images of Qdot‐labeled cancer cells and tissue specimen. (a) Fluorescence image of live MDA‐MB‐231 breast tumor cells labeled with red‐emitting Qdots. Qdots were conjugated with an antibody for targeting the urokinase plasminogen receptors (expressed on cancer cells) and (b) fluorescence image of a frozen tissue specimen stained with red‐emitting Qdots. These Qdots were targeted to the CXCR4 receptor. Green color emission originated from a nuclear dye. (Reprinted with permission from Ref 35. Copyright 2005 Elsevier).

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