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Nanotheranostics. 2017 Aug 19;1(4):369-388. doi: 10.7150/ntno.21136. eCollection 2017.

Multiplexed Optical Imaging of Tumor-Directed Nanoparticles: A Review of Imaging Systems and Approaches.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.
Department of Pathology, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


In recent decades, various classes of nanoparticles have been developed for optical imaging of cancers. Many of these nanoparticles are designed to specifically target tumor sites, and specific cancer biomarkers, to facilitate the visualization of tumors. However, one challenge for accurate detection of tumors is that the molecular profiles of most cancers vary greatly between patients as well as spatially and temporally within a single tumor mass. To overcome this challenge, certain nanoparticles and imaging systems have been developed to enable multiplexed imaging of large panels of cancer biomarkers. Multiplexed molecular imaging can potentially enable sensitive tumor detection, precise delineation of tumors during interventional procedures, and the prediction/monitoring of therapy response. In this review, we summarize recent advances in systems that have been developed for the imaging of optical nanoparticles that can be heavily multiplexed, which include surface-enhanced Raman-scattering nanoparticles (SERS NPs) and quantum dots (QDs). In addition to surveying the optical properties of these various types of nanoparticles, and the most-popular multiplexed imaging approaches that have been employed, representative preclinical and clinical imaging studies are also highlighted.


Raman spectroscopy; hyperspectral imaging; multiplexed molecular imaging; preclinical study; surgical guidance.; tissue diagnosis

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: Jonathan T.C. Liu is an inventor for a pending patent: “Raman imaging devices and methods of molecular imaging.” The other authors have declared that no conflict of interest exists.

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