Bioconjugated quantum dots for in vivo molecular and cellular imaging

Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2008 Aug 17;60(11):1226-1240. doi: 10.1016/j.addr.2008.03.015. Epub 2008 Apr 10.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biocompatible Materials / pharmacokinetics*
  • Biocompatible Materials / toxicity
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods
  • Humans
  • Nanotechnology / methods
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Quantum Dots*
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Biocompatible Materials