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Quantum dots that emit in the near-infrared can be used in vivo to follow circulation, to target the reticuloendothelial system, and to map lymphatic drainage from normal tissues and tumors. We have explored the role of surface charge and passivation by polyethylene glycol in determining circulating lifetimes and sites of deposition. Use of long polyethylene glycol polymers increases circulating lifetime. Changing surface charge can partially direct quantum dots to the liver and spleen, or the lymph nodes. Quantum dots are cleared in the order liver > spleen > bone marrow > lymph nodes. Quantum dots retained by lymph nodes maintained fluorescence for two years, suggesting either that the coating is extremely stable or that some endosomes preserve quantum dot function. We also explored migration from tumors to sentinel lymph nodes using tumor models in mice; surface charge and size make little difference to transport from tumors. Antibody and Fab-conjugates of polymer-coated quantum dots failed to target tumors in vivo, probably because of size. © 2008 Springer Netherlands.


Conference paper

Publication Date



127 - 137