Quantum dots for quantitative imaging: from single molecules to tissue

Tania Q. Vu, Wai Yan Lam, Ellen W. Hatch, Diane S. Lidke

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Since their introduction to biological imaging, quantum dots (QDs) have progressed from a little known, but attractive, technology to one that has gained broad application in many areas of biology. The versatile properties of these fluorescent nanoparticles have allowed investigators to conduct biological studies with extended spatiotemporal capabilities that were previously not possible. In this review, we focus on QD applications that provide enhanced quantitative information concerning protein dynamics and localization, including single particle tracking and immunohistochemistry, and finish by examining the prospects of upcoming applications, such as correlative light and electron microscopy and super-resolution. Advances in single molecule imaging, including multi-color and three-dimensional QD tracking, have provided new insights into the mechanisms of cell signaling and protein trafficking. New forms of QD tracking in vivo have allowed the observation of biological processes at molecular level resolution in the physiological context of the whole animal. Further methodological development of multiplexed QD-based immunohistochemistry assays should enable more quantitative analysis of key proteins in tissue samples. These advances highlight the unique quantitative data sets that QDs can provide to further our understanding of biological and disease processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-86
Number of pages16
JournalCell and tissue research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015


  • Fluorescence microscopy
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Quantum dots (QDs)
  • Single particle tracking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology
  • Cell Biology


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