Pharmaceutical Research

, Volume 29, Issue 12, pp 3273–3277 | Cite as

Biodistribution Studies of Nanoparticles Using Fluorescence Imaging: A Qualitative or Quantitative Method?

Research Paper



The biodistribution of Lipid/Calcium/Phosphate (LCP) nanoparticles (NPs) in tumor-bearing mice was investigated using fluorescence imaging. A quantitative validation of this method was done by 3H and 111In labeling of the nanoparticles.


The biodistribution of LCP NPs containing oligonucleotides was investigated using three different probes: Texas-Red labeled oligonucleotides, 3H-labeled oligonucleotides, and 111In-labled calcium phosphate.


A discrepancy was found between the radioactivity and the fluorescence signals. Signals from 3H and 111In exhibited very similar distribution patterns, suggesting that liver and spleen were the major accumulation sites. However, fluorescence imaging indicated that tumor accumulation was predominant. We further confirmed that the fluorescence signals in both liver and spleen were greatly attenuated compared with those in the tumor due to the intrinsic tissue absorption and scattering. Near-infrared (NIR) dye Cy5.5 also suffered from the same problem, in that the quantitative data from whole organs was dramatically affected by absorption and scattering properties of the tissue.


Careful attention must be paid to the quantification and interpretation of fluorescence imaging measurements when comparing different tissues.


biodistribution fluorescence imaging nanoparticle quantitation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics, Eshelman School of PharmacyUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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