Bioconjugated quantum dots for in vivo molecular and cellular imaging

Andrew M. Smith, Hongwei Duan, Aaron M. Mohs, Shuming Nie

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) are tiny light-emitting particles on the nanometer scale, and are emerging as a new class of fluorescent labels for biology and medicine. In comparison with organic dyes and fluorescent proteins, they have unique optical and electronic properties, with size-tunable light emission, superior signal brightness, resistance to photobleaching, and broad absorption spectra for simultaneous excitation of multiple fluorescence colors. QDs also provide a versatile nanoscale scaffold for designing multifunctional nanoparticles with both imaging and therapeutic functions. When linked with targeting ligands such as antibodies, peptides or small molecules, QDs can be used to target tumor biomarkers as well as tumor vasculatures with high affinity and specificity. Here we discuss the synthesis and development of state-of-the-art QD probes and their use for molecular and cellular imaging. We also examine key issues for in vivo imaging and therapy, such as nanoparticle biodistribution, pharmacokinetics, and toxicology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1226-1240
Number of pages15
JournalAdvanced Drug Delivery Reviews
Issue number11
StatePublished - Aug 17 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomarkers
  • Cancer
  • Cellular imaging
  • Drug delivery
  • Fluorescence
  • Molecular imaging
  • Nanocrystals
  • Nanoparticles
  • Nanotechnology
  • Quantum dots
  • Toxicology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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