Labeling and tracking cells with gold nanoparticles

Drug Discov Today. 2021 Jan;26(1):94-105. doi: 10.1016/j.drudis.2020.10.020. Epub 2020 Oct 31.


Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) have garnered much attention as contrast agents for computerized tomography (CT) because of their facile synthesis and surface functionalization, in addition to their significant X-ray attenuation and minimal cytotoxicity. Cell labeling using AuNPs and tracking of the labeled cells using CT has become a time-efficient and cost-effective method. Actively targeted AuNPs can enhance CT contrast and sensitivity, and further reduce the radiation dosage needed during CT imaging. In this review, we summarize the state-of-the-art use of AuNPs in CT for cell tracking, including the precautionary steps necessary for their use and the difficulty in translating the process into clinical use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Tracking / methods*
  • Contrast Media / pharmacology
  • Gold Radioisotopes / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Metal Nanoparticles / therapeutic use*
  • Nanotechnology / trends
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / trends


  • Contrast Media
  • Gold Radioisotopes