PloS one

Visualisation of sentinel lymph node with indium-based near infrared emitting Quantum Dots in a murine metastatic breast cancer model.

PMID 22952979


Due to its non-invasiveness, high temporal resolution and lower cost, fluorescence imaging is an interesting alternative to the current method (blue dye and radiocolloid) of sentinel lymph node (SLN) mapping in breast cancer. Near-infrared (NIR) emitting cadmium-based Quantum Dots (QDs) could be used for this purpose; however, their wide application is limited because of the toxicity of heavy metals composing the core. Our recent work demonstrated that indium-based QDs exhibit a weak acute local toxicity in vivo compared to their cadmium-based counterparts. In the present study we confirmed the weak toxicity of CuInS(2)/ZnS QDs in different in vitro models. Further in vivo studies in healthy mice showed that In-based QDs could be visualised in SLN in a few minutes after administration with a progressive increase in fluorescence until 8 h. The quantity of indium was assessed in selected organs and tissues by inductively coupled plasma - mass spectroscopy (ICP-MS) as a function of post-injection time. QD levels decrease rapidly at the injection point in the first hours after administration with a parallel increase in the lymph nodes and to a lesser extent in the liver and spleen. In addition, we observed that 3.5% of the injected indium dose was excreted in faeces in the first 4 days, with only trace quantities in the urine. Metastatic spread to the lymph nodes may hamper its visualisation. Therefore, we further performed non-invasive fluorescence measurement of QDs in SLN in tumour-bearing mice. Metastatic status was assessed by immunohistology and molecular techniques and revealed the utmost metastatic invasion of 36% of SLN. Fluorescence signal was the same irrespective of SLN status. Thus, near-infrared emitting cadmium-free QDs could be an excellent SLN tracer.

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