The identification and molecular profiling of early metastases remains a major challenge in cancer diagnostics and therapy. Most in vivo imaging methods fail to detect small cancerous lesions, a problem that is compounded by the distinct physical and biological barriers associated with different metastatic niches. Here, we show that intravenously injected rare-earth-doped albumin-encapsulated nanoparticles emitting short-wave infrared light (SWIR) can detect targeted metastatic lesions in vivo, allowing for the longitudinal tracking of multi-organ metastases. In a murine model of human breast cancer, the nanoprobes enabled whole-body SWIR detection of adrenal-gland microlesions and bone lesions that were undetectable via contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging as early as three and five weeks post-inoculation, respectively. Whole-body SWIR imaging of nanoprobes functionalized to differentially target distinct metastatic sites and administered to a biomimetic murine model of human breast cancer resolved multi-organ metastases that showed varied molecular profiles in the lungs, adrenal glands and bones. Real-time surveillance of lesions in multiple organs should facilitate pre- and post-therapy monitoring in preclinical settings.
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The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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We are grateful for access to the Rutgers Molecular Imaging Core (D. Adler), Analytical Core at the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, Rutgers University (B. Buckley and E. McCandish), and for funding from the National Institutes of Health National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (EB018378-01 and EB015169-02), Singapore University of Technology and Design-Massachusetts Institute of Technology International Design Centre (project number IDG31400106), and the Singapore Ministry of Education (project number MOE2014-T2-2-145). We also thank Y. Kang of Princeton University for the SCP28, SCP2 and 4175-TR cells. We acknowledge Malvern Instruments for providing the equipment used for the DLS measurements.
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