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Cancers 2012, 4(4), 1067-1105; doi:10.3390/cancers4041067

High Resolution Fluorescence Imaging of Cancers Using Lanthanide Ion-Doped Upconverting Nanocrystals

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Concordia University, Montreal H4B 1R6, Canada
Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid 28049, Spain
Departamento de Fisiología. Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid 28029, Spain
Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique-Énergie, Matériaux et Télécommunications, Université du Québec, Varennes J3X 1S2, Canada
Departamento de Física de Materiales, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid 28049, Spain
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 13 August 2012 / Revised: 20 September 2012 / Accepted: 15 October 2012 / Published: 22 October 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanotechnology and Cancer Therapeutics)


During the last decade inorganic luminescent nanoparticles that emit visible light under near infrared (NIR) excitation (in the biological window) have played a relevant role for high resolution imaging of cancer. Indeed, semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) and metal nanoparticles, mostly gold nanorods (GNRs), are already commercially available for this purpose. In this work we review the role which is being played by a relatively new class of nanoparticles, based on lanthanide ion doped nanocrystals, to target and image cancer cells using upconversion fluorescence microscopy. These nanoparticles are insulating nanocrystals that are usually doped with small percentages of two different rare earth (lanthanide) ions: The excited donor ions (usually Yb3+ ion) that absorb the NIR excitation and the acceptor ions (usually Er3+, Ho3+ or Tm3+), that are responsible for the emitted visible (or also near infrared) radiation. The higher conversion efficiency of these nanoparticles in respect to those based on QDs and GNRs, as well as the almost independent excitation/emission properties from the particle size, make them particularly promising for fluorescence imaging. The different approaches of these novel nanoparticles devoted to "in vitro" and "in vivo" cancer imaging, selective targeting and treatment are examined in this review. View Full-Text
Keywords: cancer; fluorescence imaging; lanthanide-doped nanocrystals; upconversion; targeting cancer; fluorescence imaging; lanthanide-doped nanocrystals; upconversion; targeting

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Naccache, R.; Rodríguez, E.M.; Bogdan, N.; Sanz-Rodríguez, F.; Cruz, M.C.I.; Fuente, Á.J.; Vetrone, F.; Jaque, D.; Solé, J.G.; Capobianco, J.A. High Resolution Fluorescence Imaging of Cancers Using Lanthanide Ion-Doped Upconverting Nanocrystals. Cancers 2012, 4, 1067-1105.

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