In vivo imaging with antibodies and engineered fragments

Mol Immunol. 2015 Oct;67(2 Pt A):142-52. doi: 10.1016/j.molimm.2015.04.001. Epub 2015 Apr 28.


Antibodies have clearly demonstrated their utility as therapeutics, providing highly selective and effective drugs to treat diseases in oncology, hematology, cardiology, immunology and autoimmunity, and infectious diseases. More recently, a pressing need for equally specific and targeted imaging agents for assessing disease in vivo, in preclinical models and patients, has emerged. This review summarizes strategies for developing and optimizing antibodies as targeted probes for use in non-invasive imaging using radioactive, optical, magnetic resonance, and ultrasound approaches. Recent advances in engineered antibody fragments and scaffolds, conjugation and labeling methods, and multimodality probes are highlighted. Importantly, antibody-based imaging probes are seeing new applications in detection and quantitation of cell surface biomarkers, imaging specific responses to targeted therapies, and monitoring immune responses in oncology and other diseases. Antibody-based imaging will provide essential tools to facilitate the transition to truly precision medicine.

Keywords: Antibody fragments; Image-guided surgery; ImmunoPET; Molecular imaging.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies / chemistry
  • Antibodies / immunology*
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Diagnostic Imaging / trends
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin Fragments / chemistry
  • Immunoglobulin Fragments / immunology
  • Models, Immunological
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Antibodies
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Immunoglobulin Fragments