Folate receptor-targeting gold nanoclusters as fluorescence enzyme mimetic nanoprobes for tumor molecular colocalization diagnosis

Theranostics. 2014 Jan 2;4(2):142-53. doi: 10.7150/thno.7266. eCollection 2014.


Nanoprobes with enzyme-like properties attracted a growing interest in early screening and diagnosis of cancer. To achieve high accuracy and specificity of tumor detection, the design and preparation of enzyme mimetic nanoprobes with high enzyme activity, tumor targeting and excellent luminescence property is highly desirable. Herein, we described a novel kind of fluorescence enzyme mimetic nanoprobe based on folate receptor-targeting Au nanoclusters. The nanoprobes exhibited excellent stability, low cytotoxicity, high fluorescence and enzyme activity. We demonstrated that the nanoprobes could be used for tumor tissues fluorescence/visualizing detection. For the same tumor tissue slice, the nanoprobes peroxidase staining and fluorescent staining were obtained simultaneously, and the results were mutually complementary. Therefore, the fluorescence enzyme mimetic nanoprobes could provide a molecular colocalization diagnosis strategy, efficiently avoid false-positive and false-negative results, and further improve the accuracy and specificity of cancer diagnoses. By examining different clinical samples, we demonstrated that the nanoprobes could distinguish efficiently cancerous cells from normal cells, and exhibit a clinical potential for cancer diagnosis.

Keywords: Enzyme Mimetic; Fluorescence; Gold Nanoclusters; Molecular Colocalization; Tumor Diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Female
  • Fluorescence
  • Folate Receptors, GPI-Anchored / analysis*
  • Gold*
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Nanoparticles*
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Staining and Labeling


  • Folate Receptors, GPI-Anchored
  • Gold
  • Peroxidase