89Zr-labeled dextran nanoparticles allow in vivo macrophage imaging

Bioconjug Chem. 2011 Dec 21;22(12):2383-9. doi: 10.1021/bc200405d. Epub 2011 Nov 7.


Tissue macrophages play a critical role both in normal physiology and in disease states. However, because of a lack of specific imaging agents, we continue to have a poor understanding of their absolute numbers, flux rates, and functional states in different tissues. Here, we describe a new macrophage specific positron emission tomography imaging agent, labeled with zirconium-89 ((89)Zr), that was based on a cross-linked, short chain dextran nanoparticle (13 nm). Following systemic administration, the particle demonstrated a vascular half-life of 3.9 h and was found to be located primarily in tissue resident macrophages rather than other white blood cells. Subsequent imaging of the probe using a xenograft mouse model of cancer allowed for quantitation of tumor-associated macrophage numbers, which are of major interest in emerging molecular targeting strategies. It is likely that the material described, which allows the visualization of macrophage biology in vivo, will likewise be useful for a multitude of human applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Dextrans / chemistry*
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Isotopes / analysis
  • Macrophages / cytology*
  • Mice
  • Nanoparticles* / chemistry
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods*
  • Zirconium* / analysis


  • Dextrans
  • Isotopes
  • Zirconium