Nano-imaging of the lymph network structure with quantum dots

Nanotechnology. 2010 May 7;21(18):185103. doi: 10.1088/0957-4484/21/18/185103. Epub 2010 Apr 14.


Sentinel lymph node diagnosis contributes to operative strategy in cancer surgery. During lymph node metastasis, cancer cells first reach the sentinel lymph node (SLN) via lymph flow. To perform SLN biopsy effectively, it is important that cancer cells are detected with high sensitivity in SLN connected to the tumor site. Here we present a method to visualize a high-risk area in the SLN for lymph node metastasis with a high degree of accuracy. Quantum dots (QDs), bright fluorescent nanoparticles, were endoscopically injected into the gastrointestinal wall of pigs, and their signal was specifically detected in the SLN with a laparoscopic device. Single-particle imaging under a confocal microscope showed that the QDs were distributed heterogeneously in the SLN and that their distribution marked the inflow locus of afferent lymphatic vessels where lymph node metastasis begins. Moreover, we developed a method using cellular marker conjugated QDs that visualizes specific cells in SLNs, suggesting that this method can be applied for the detection of cancer cells in sentinel lymph nodes using tumor-specific-molecular conjugated QDs. These results show that our method might significantly increase the detection rate of cancer metastasis in SLNs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • CD3 Complex / metabolism
  • Gastric Mucosa / metabolism
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Lymph Nodes / metabolism
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Lymphatic Vessels / anatomy & histology
  • Lymphatic Vessels / metabolism
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Confocal / methods*
  • Nanotechnology / methods*
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / pathology*
  • Quantum Dots*
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy / methods*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Swine


  • Antibodies
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CD3 Complex