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PLoS One. 2013 Aug 12;8(8):e70476. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0070476. eCollection 2013.

Whole cell-SELEX aptamers for highly specific fluorescence molecular imaging of carcinomas in vivo.

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State Key Laboratory of Chemo/Biosensing and Chemometrics, Hunan University, Changsha, China.



Carcinomas make up the majority of cancers. Their accurate and specific diagnoses are of great significance for the improvement of patients' curability.


In this paper, we report an effectual example of the in vivo fluorescence molecular imaging of carcinomas with extremely high specificity based on whole cell-SELEX aptamers. Firstly, S6, an aptamer against A549 lung carcinoma cells, was adopted and labeled with Cy5 to serve as a molecular imaging probe. Flow cytometry assays revealed that Cy5-S6 could not only specifically label in vitro cultured A549 cells in buffer, but also successfully achieve the detection of ex vivo cultured target cells in serum. When applied to in vivo imaging, Cy5-S6 was demonstrated to possess high specificity in identifying A549 carcinoma through a systematic comparison investigation. Particularly, after Cy5-S6 was intravenously injected into nude mice which were simultaneously grafted with A549 lung carcinoma and Tca8113 tongue carcinoma, a much longer retention time of Cy5-S6 in A549 tumor was observed and a clear targeted cancer imaging result was presented. On this basis, to further promote the application to imaging other carcinomas, LS2 and ZY8, which are two aptamers selected by our group against Bel-7404 and SMMC-7721 liver carcinoma cells respectively, were tested in a similar way, both in vitro and in vivo. Results showed that these aptamers were even effective in differentiating liver carcinomas of different subtypes in the same body.


This work might greatly advance the application of whole cell-SELEX aptamers to carcinomas-related in vivo researches.

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