Nanotheranostics 2017; 1(4):369-388. doi:10.7150/ntno.21136 This issue


Multiplexed Optical Imaging of Tumor-Directed Nanoparticles: A Review of Imaging Systems and Approaches

Yu Winston Wang1✉, Nicholas P. Reder1, 2, Soyoung Kang1, Adam K. Glaser1, Jonathan T.C. Liu1✉

1. Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA;
2. Department of Pathology, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) license ( See for full terms and conditions.
Wang YW, Reder NP, Kang S, Glaser AK, Liu JTC. Multiplexed Optical Imaging of Tumor-Directed Nanoparticles: A Review of Imaging Systems and Approaches. Nanotheranostics 2017; 1(4):369-388. doi:10.7150/ntno.21136. Available from

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Graphic abstract

In recent decades, various classes of nanoparticles have been developed for optical imaging of cancers. Many of these nanoparticles are designed to specifically target tumor sites, and specific cancer biomarkers, to facilitate the visualization of tumors. However, one challenge for accurate detection of tumors is that the molecular profiles of most cancers vary greatly between patients as well as spatially and temporally within a single tumor mass. To overcome this challenge, certain nanoparticles and imaging systems have been developed to enable multiplexed imaging of large panels of cancer biomarkers. Multiplexed molecular imaging can potentially enable sensitive tumor detection, precise delineation of tumors during interventional procedures, and the prediction/monitoring of therapy response. In this review, we summarize recent advances in systems that have been developed for the imaging of optical nanoparticles that can be heavily multiplexed, which include surface-enhanced Raman-scattering nanoparticles (SERS NPs) and quantum dots (QDs). In addition to surveying the optical properties of these various types of nanoparticles, and the most-popular multiplexed imaging approaches that have been employed, representative preclinical and clinical imaging studies are also highlighted.

Keywords: multiplexed molecular imaging, Raman spectroscopy, hyperspectral imaging, preclinical study, tissue diagnosis, surgical guidance.