Imaging pancreatic cancer using bioconjugated InP quantum dots

ACS Nano. 2009 Mar 24;3(3):502-10. doi: 10.1021/nn8008933.


In this paper, we report the successful use of non-cadmium-based quantum dots (QDs) as highly efficient and nontoxic optical probes for imaging live pancreatic cancer cells. Indium phosphide (core)-zinc sulfide (shell), or InP/ZnS, QDs with high quality and bright luminescence were prepared by a hot colloidal synthesis method in nonaqueous media. The surfaces of these QDs were then functionalized with mercaptosuccinic acid to make them highly dispersible in aqueous media. Further bioconjugation with pancreatic cancer specific monoclonal antibodies, such as anticlaudin 4 and antiprostate stem cell antigen (anti-PSCA), to the functionalized InP/ZnS QDs, allowed specific in vitro targeting of pancreatic cancer cell lines (both immortalized and low passage ones). The receptor-mediated delivery of the bioconjugates was further confirmed by the observation of poor in vitro targeting in nonpancreatic cancer based cell lines which are negative for the claudin-4-receptor. These observations suggest the immense potential of InP/ZnS QDs as non-cadmium-based safe and efficient optical imaging nanoprobes in diagnostic imaging, particularly for early detection of cancer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / metabolism
  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Claudin-4
  • GPI-Linked Proteins
  • Humans
  • Indium / chemistry*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Confocal / methods*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Phosphines / chemistry*
  • Quantum Dots*
  • Sulfides / chemistry
  • Zinc Compounds / chemistry


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • CLDN4 protein, human
  • Claudin-4
  • GPI-Linked Proteins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • PSCA protein, human
  • Phosphines
  • Sulfides
  • Zinc Compounds
  • Indium
  • zinc sulfide
  • indium phosphide