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Bioconjug Chem. 2007 Sep-Oct;18(5):1424-33. Epub 2007 Aug 31.

Surface engineering of quantum dots for in vivo vascular imaging.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Vanderbilt University, USA.


Quantum dot-antibody bioconjugates (QD-mAb) were synthesized incorporating PEG cross-linkers and Fc-shielding mAb fragments to increase in vivo circulation times and targeting efficiency. Microscopy of endothelial cell cultures incubated with QD-mAb directed against cell adhesion molecules (CAMs), when shielded to reduce Fc-mediated interactions, were more specific for their molecular targets. In vitro flow cytometry indicated that surface engineered QD-mAb labeled leukocyte subsets with minimal Fc-mediated binding. Nontargeted QD-mAb nanoparticles with Fc-blockade featured 64% (endothelial cells) and 53% (leukocytes) lower nonspecific binding than non-Fc-blocked nanoparticles. Spectrally distinct QD-mAb targeted to the cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) PECAM-1, ICAM-1, and VCAM-1 on the retinal endothelium in a rat model of diabetes were imaged in vivo using fluorescence angiography. Endogenously labeled circulating and adherent leukocyte subsets were imaged in rat models of diabetes and uveitis using QD-mAb targeted to RP-1 and CD45. Diabetic rats exhibited increased fluorescence in the retinal vasculature from QD bioconjugates to ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 but not PECAM-1. Both animal models exhibited leukocyte rolling and leukostasis in capillaries. Examination of retinal whole mounts prepared after in vivo imaging confirmed the fluorescence patterns seen in vivo. Comparison of the timecourse of retinal fluorescence from Fc-shielded and non-Fc-shielded bioconjugates indicated nonspecific uptake and increased clearance of the non-Fc-shielded QD-mAb. This combination of QD surface design elements offers a promising new in vivo approach to specifically label vascular cells and biomolecules of interest.

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