Phosphorylcholine-conjugated gold-molecular clusters improve signal for Lymph Node NIR-II fluorescence imaging in preclinical cancer models

Nat Commun. 2022 Sep 24;13(1):5613. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-33341-6.


Sentinel lymph node imaging and biopsy is important to clinical assessment of cancer metastasis, and novel non-radioactive lymphographic tracers have been actively pursued over the years. Here, we develop gold molecular clusters (Au25) functionalized by phosphorylcholine (PC) ligands for NIR-II (1000-3000 nm) fluorescence imaging of draining lymph nodes in 4T1 murine breast cancer and CT26 colon cancer tumor mouse models. The Au-phosphorylcholine (Au-PC) probes exhibit 'super-stealth' behavior with little interactions with serum proteins, cells and tissues in vivo, which differs from the indocyanine green (ICG) dye. Subcutaneous injection of Au-PC allows lymph node mapping by NIR-II fluorescence imaging at an optimal time of ~ 0.5 - 1 hour postinjection followed by rapid renal clearance. Preclinical NIR-II fluorescence LN imaging with Au-PC affords high signal to background ratios and high safety and biocompatibility, promising for future clinical translation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Coloring Agents
  • Fluorescence
  • Gold
  • Indocyanine Green*
  • Lymph Nodes / diagnostic imaging
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Optical Imaging
  • Phosphorylcholine
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy / methods


  • Coloring Agents
  • Phosphorylcholine
  • Gold
  • Indocyanine Green

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.20445561.v1