Long-term persistence and spectral blue shifting of quantum dots in vivo.

Quantum dots are a powerful fluorophore family with desirable attributes for fluorescence imaging. They have been used in several animal models with direct clinical relevance, including sentinel lymph node mapping, tracing vasculature and lymphatics, and targeting specific lesions for diagnosis and removal. (1-12) Despite significant interest for use in translational applications, little is known about the persistence and long-term fate of quantum dots in vivo. We have observed fluorescence of quantum dots injected into Balb/c and nude mice for up to two-years post injection using both whole-body and microscopic fluorescence techniques. Two-photon spectral microscopy was used to verify the existence of quantum dots within two-year tissues, but also revealed a range of significantly blue-shifted emission peaks with increased bandwidths. Systemically administered quantum dots persist and retain fluorescence for up to two-years in vivo, but with significantly blue-shifted emission.