Single- and two-photon imaging of human micrometastases and disseminated tumour cells with conjugates of nanobodies and quantum dots.
Early detection of malignant tumours and, especially, micrometastases and disseminated tumour cells is still a challenge. In order to implement highly sensitive diagnostic tools we demonstrate the use of nanoprobes engineered from nanobodies (single-domain antibodies, sdAbs) and fluorescent quantum dots (QDs) for single- and two-photon detection and imaging of human micrometastases and disseminated tumour cells in ex vivo biological samples of breast and pancreatic metastatic tumour mouse models expressing human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) or carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA). By staining thin (5-10 µm) paraffin and thick (50 µm) agarose tissue sections, we detected HER2- and CEA-positive human tumour cells infiltrating the surrounding tissues or metastasizing to different organs, including the brain, testis, lung, liver, and lymph nodes. Compared to conventional fluorescently labelled antibodies the sdAb-HER2-QD and sdAb-CEA-QD nanoprobes are superior in detecting micrometastases in tissue sections by lower photobleaching and higher brightness of fluorescence signals ensuring much better discrimination of positive signals versus background. Very high two-photon absorption cross-sections of QDs and small size of the nanoprobes ensure efficient imaging of thick tissue sections unattainable with conventional fluorescent probes. The nanobody-QD probes will help to improve early cancer diagnosis and prognosis of progression by assessing metastasis.Lire l‘article