An individually coated near-infrared fluorescent protein as a safe and robust nanoprobe for in vivo imaging

Nanoscale. 2013 Nov 7;5(21):10345-52. doi: 10.1039/c3nr02508j. Epub 2013 Sep 12.


A prerequisite for in vivo fluorescence imaging is the safety of fluorescent probes. Among all fluorescent probes, fluorescent proteins (FPs) might be the safest ones, which have been widely used in biological sciences at the gene level. But FPs have not been used in vivo in the purified form yet due to the instability of proteins. Here, we individually coat near-infrared (NIR) FPs (NIRFPs) with a silica nanoshell, resulting in NIRFP@silica, one of the safest and brightest NIR fluorescent nanoprobes with a quantum yield of 0.33 for in vivo imaging. The silica shell not only protects NIRFPs from denaturation and metabolic digestion, but also enhances the quantum yield and photostability of the coated NIRFPs. When injected via the tail vein, NIRFP@silica NPs can distribute all over the mouse body, and then can be efficiently eliminated through urine in 24 h, demonstrating its potential applications as a safe and robust NIR fluorescence probe for whole body imaging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemistry*
  • Fluorescent Dyes / metabolism
  • Hep G2 Cells
  • Humans
  • Liver / pathology
  • Luminescent Proteins / chemistry*
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Nanoparticles / toxicity
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Silicon Dioxide / chemistry
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared*
  • Transplantation, Heterologous


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Silicon Dioxide