Hyaluronic Acid−Quantum Dot Conjugates for In Vivo Lymphatic Vessel Imaging

A simple and novel electrostatic coupling method is reported, which provides a hyaluronic acid−quantum dot conjugate (HA−QD) that is colloidally stable and size-tunable from 50 to 120 nm. The HA−QDs show cancer targeting efficiency, which suggests diagnostic and imaging applications. The conjugates are also demonstrated for the fluorescence staining capability for lymphatic vessels in vitro and in vivo. Using the HA−QDs in a small animal model, lymphatic vessels are visualized real-time in vivo for days. Comprehensive cytotoxicity evaluations are made for the conjugates and the unconjugated counterpart. The HA−QDs showcase the potentials toward cancer imaging and real-time visualization of changes in lymphatic vessels such as lymphangiogenesis.