Indexed on: 06 Sep '11Published on: 06 Sep '11Published in: ACS Nano
Quantum dots (QDs) are ideal scaffolds for the development of multimodal imaging agents, but their application in clinical diagnostics is limited by the toxicity of classical CdSe QDs. A new bimodal MRI/optical nanosized contrast agent with high gadolinium payload has been prepared through direct covalent attachment of up to 80 Gd(III) chelates on fluorescent nontoxic InP/ZnS QDs. It shows a high relaxivity of 900 mM(-1) s(-1) (13 mM(-1 )s(-1) per Gd ion) at 35 MHz (0.81 T) and 298 K, while the bright luminescence of the QDs is preserved. Eu(III) and Tb(III) chelates were also successfully grafted to the InP/ZnS QDs. The absence of energy transfer between the QD and lanthanide emitting centers results in a multicolor system. Using this convenient direct grafting strategy additional targeting ligands can be included on the QD. Here a cell-penetrating peptide has been co-grafted in a one-pot reaction to afford a cell-permeable multimodal multimeric MRI contrast agent that reports cellular localization by fluorescence and provides high relaxivity and increased tissue retention with respect to commercial contrast agents.