In vivo near-infrared fluorescence imaging of osteoblastic activity

Atif Zaheer, Robert E. Lenkinski, Ashfaq Mahmood, Alun G. Jones, Lewis C. Cantley, John V. Frangioni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

305 Scopus citations


In vertebrates, the development and integrity of the skeleton requires hydroxyapatite (HA) deposition by osteoblasts. HA deposition is also a marker of, or a participant in, processes as diverse as cancer and atherosclerosis. At present, sites of osteoblastic activity can only be imaged in vivo using γ-emitting radioisotopes. The scan times required are long, and the resultant radioscintigraphic images suffer from relatively low resolution. We have synthesized a near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent bisphosphonate derivative that exhibits rapid and specific binding to HA in vitro and in vivo. We demonstrate NIR light-based detection of osteoblastic activity in the living animal, and discuss how this technology can be used to study skeletal development, osteoblastic metastasis, coronary atherosclerosis, and other human diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1148-1154
Number of pages7
JournalNature biotechnology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering


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