Invivo fluorescence imaging for cancer diagnosis using receptor-targeted epidermal growth factor-based nanoprobe

Ju Hee Ryu, Miyoung Shin, Sun Ah Kim, Sangmin Lee, Hyunjoon Kim, Heebeom Koo, Byung Soo Kim, Hyun Kyu Song, Sun Hwa Kim, Kuiwon Choi, Ick Chan Kwon, Hyesung Jeon, Kwangmeyung Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Receptor-targeted imaging is emerging as a promising strategy for diagnosis of human cancer. Herein, we developed an epidermal growth factor-based nanoprobe (EGF-NP) for invivo optical imaging of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), an important target for cancer imaging. The self-quenched EGF-NP is fabricated by sequentially conjugating a near-infrared (NIR) fluorophore (Cy5.5) and a quencher (BHQ-3) to EGF, a low-molecular weight polypeptide (6.2kDa), compared to EGFR antibody (150kDa). The self-quenched EGF-NP presented great specificity to EGFR, and rapidly internalized into the cells, as monitored by time-lapse imaging. Importantly, the self-quenched EGF-NP boosted strong fluorescence signals upon EGFR-targeted uptake into EGFR-expressing cells, followed by lysosomal degradation, as confirmed by lysosomal marker cell imaging. Consistent with cellular results, intravenous injection of EGF-NP into tumor-bearing mice induced strong NIR fluorescence intensity in the target tumor tissue with high specificity against EGFR-expressing cancer cells. Signal accumulation of EGF-NP in tumor was much faster than that of EGFR monoclonal antibody (Cetuximab)-Cy5.5 conjugates due to the rapid clearance from the body and tissue permeability of low-molecular weight EGF. This self-quenched, EGF-based imaging probe can be applied for diagnosis of various cancers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9149-9159
Number of pages11
Issue number36
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • Cancer imaging
  • EGF-based nanoprobe
  • Epidermal growth factor (EGF)
  • Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)
  • Receptor-targeted imaging


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