, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 187-197

Liposome-coated quantum dots targeting the sentinel lymph node

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Abstract

Sentinel lymph node (SLN) mapping with near-infrared (NIR) quantum dot (QDs) have many advantages over traditional methods. However, as an inorganic nanomaterial, QDs have low biocompatibility and low affinity to the lymphatic system. Here, we encapsulated QDs into nanoscale liposomes and then used these liposome-coated QDs for SLN mapping. The results showed that the liposome-coated QDs exhibited core–shell characterization, and their fluorescence emission did not decrease but slightly increased after being continuously excited by a xenon lamp source (150 W) at 488 nm at 37 °C for 1 h. After storing at 4 °C for more than one and half years, the liposome-coated QDs were found to have retained their spherical structure containing a large amount of QDs. When liposome-coated QDs with average size of 55.43 nm were injected intradermally into the paw of a mouse, the SLN was strongly fluorescent within only a few seconds and visualized easily in real time. Moreover, the fluorescence of the QDs trapped in the SLN could be observed for at least 24 h. Compared with the SLN mapping of QDs absent of liposomes and liposome-coated QDs with a larger average size (100.3 and 153.6 nm), more QDs migrated into the SLN when the liposome-coated QDs with smaller average size (55.43 nm) were injected. This technique may make a great contribution to the improvement of the biocompatibility of QDs and the targeting delivery capacity of QDs into the SLN.