Tumor targeting and imaging in live animals with functionalized semiconductor quantum rods

Ken Tye Yong, Rui Hu, Indrajit Roy, Hong Ding, Lisa A. Vathy, Earl J. Bergey, Masamichi Mizuma, Anirban Maitra, Paras N. Prasad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)


In this contribution, we demonstrate that highly luminescent CdSe/CdS/ZnS quantum rods (QRs) coated with PEGylated phospholipids and conjugated with cyclic RGD peptide can be successfully used for tumor targeting and imaging in live animals. The design of these targeted luminescent probes involves encapsulation of hydrophobic CdSe/CdS/ZnS QRs with PEGylated phospholipids, followed by conjugation of these PEGylated phospholipids to ligands that specifically target the tumor vasculature. In vivo optical imaging studies in nude mice bearing pancreatic cancer xenografts, both subcutaneous and orthotopic, indicate that the QR probes accumulate at tumor sites via the cyclic RGD peptides on the QR surface binding to the α Vβ 3 integrins overexpressed in the tumor vasculature, following systemic injection. In vivo tumor detection studies showed no adverse effects even at a dose roughly 6.5 times higher than has been reported for in vivo imaging studies using quantum dots. Cytotoxicity studies indicated the absence of any toxic effect in the cellular and tissue levels arising from functionalized QRs. These results demonstrate the vast potential of QRs as bright, photostable, and biocompatible luminescent probes for the early diagnosis of cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)710-719
Number of pages10
JournalACS applied materials & interfaces
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Mar 25


  • bioconjugation
  • bioimaging
  • pancreatic cancer
  • peptide
  • quantum rods
  • targeted delivery


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