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Am J Nucl Med Mol Imaging 2013;3(1):1-15

Original Article
Optical imaging of tumor microenvironment

Yihan Wu, Wenjie Zhang, Jinbo Li, Yan Zhang

School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Key Lab of Analytical Chemistry for Life Science, Ministry of Education
of China, Nanjing University, Nanjing, China

Received November 15, 2012; Accepted December 8, 2012; Epub January 5, 2013; Published January 15, 2013

Abstract: Tumor microenvironment plays important roles in tumor development and metastasis. Features of the
tumor microenvironment that are significantly different from normal tissues include acidity, hypoxia, overexpressed
proteases and so on. Therefore, these features can serve as not only biomarkers for tumor diagnosis but also theraputic
targets for tumor treatment. Imaging modalities such as optical, positron emission tomography (PET) and
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have been intensively applied to investigate tumor microenvironment. Various
imaging probes targeting pH, hypoxia and proteases in tumor microenvironment were thus well developed. In this
review, we will focus on recent examples on fluorescent probes for optical imaging of tumor microenvironment.
Construction of these fluorescent probes were based on characteristic feature of pH, hypoxia and proteases in tumor
microenvironment. Strategies for development of these fluorescent probes and applications of these probes in
optical imaging of tumor cells or tissues will be discussed in this review paper. (ajnmmi1211002).

Keywords: Optical imaging, tumor microenvironment, pH, hypoxia, protease

Address all correspondence to:
Dr. Jinbo Li, or Dr. Yan Zhang
School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
Key Lab of Analytical Chemistry for Life Science
Ministry of Education of China
Nanjing University, Nanjing, China.
E-mail: jinboli@nju.edu.cn; or: njuzy@nju.edu.cn