Multiplexed Imaging of Therapeutic Cells with Multispectrally Encoded Magnetofluorescent Nanocomposite Emulsions

Here, we describe the fabrication of multispectrally encoded nanoprobes, perfluorocarbon (PFC)/quantum dots (QDs) nanocomposite emulsions, which could provide both multispectral MR and multicolor optical imaging modalities. Our strategy exploited the combination of the multispectral MR properties of four different PFC materials and the multicolor emission properties of three different colored CdSe/ZnS QDs. The PFC/QDs nanocomposite emulsions were fabricated by exchanging hydrophobic ligands coated onto CdSe/ZnS QDs using 1<i>H</i>,1<i>H</i>,2<i>H</i>,2<i>H</i>-perfluorooctanethiol, which renders the QDs to be dispersible in the PFC liquids. To provide biocompatibility, the PFC liquids containing QDs were emulsified into aqueous solutions with the aid of phospholipids. The distinct <sup>19</sup>F-based MR images of PFC/QDs nanocomposite emulsions were obtained by selective excitation of the nanocomposite emulsions with magnetic resonance frequency of each PFC, while a specific fluorescence image of them could be selected using appropriate optical filters. The uptake of PFC/QDs nanocomposite emulsions was high in phagocytic cells such as macrophages (90.55%) and dendritic cells (85.34%), while it was low in nonphagocytic T cells (33%). We have also shown that the nanocomposite emulsions were successfully applied to differentially visualize immunotherapeutic cells (macrophages, dendritic cells, and T cells) in vivo. The PFC/QDs nanocomposite emulsions are expected to be a promising multimodality nanoprobe for the multiplexed detection and imaging of therapeutic cells both in vitro and in vivo.