, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 394-405

Fluorescence Imaging and Whole-Body Biodistribution of Near-Infrared-Emitting Quantum Dots after Subcutaneous Injection for Regional Lymph Node Mapping in Mice

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This study compares fluorescence imaging to mass spectroscopy (inductively coupled plasma–mass spectroscopy, ICP–MS) for detection of quantum dots (QDs) in sentinel lymph node (LN) mapping of breast cancer.


We study the accumulation of near-infrared-emitting QDs into regional LNs and their whole-body biodistribution in mice after subcutaneous injection, using in vivo fluorescence imaging and ex vivo elemental analysis by ICP–MS.


We show that the QD accumulation in regional LNs is detectable by fluorescence imaging as early as 5 min post-delivery. Their concentration reaches a maximum at 4 h then decreases over a 10-day observation period. These data are confirmed by ICP–MS. The QD uptake in other organs, assessed by ICP–MS, increases steadily over time; however, its overall level remains rather low.


Fluorescence imaging can be used as a non-invasive alternative to ICP–MS to follow the QD accumulation kinetics into regional LNs.

Manuscript category and significance

The present “research article” addresses near-infrared-emitting quantum dots detection by fluorescence imaging as a non-invasive and reliable method for identification of regional lymph nodes for their eventual use in breast tumor patients.