Bioresponsive probes for molecular imaging: Concepts and in vivo applications

S.M.J. van Duijnhoven, M.S. Robillard, S. Langereis, H. Grüll

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Molecular imaging is a powerful tool to visualize and characterize biological processes at the cellular and molecular level in vivo. In most molecular imaging approaches, probes are used to bind to disease-specific biomarkers highlighting disease target sites. In recent years, a new subset of molecular imaging probes, known as bioresponsive molecular probes, has been developed. These probes generally benefit from signal enhancement at the site of interaction with its target. There are mainly two classes of bioresponsive imaging probes. The first class consists of probes that show direct activation of the imaging label (from "off" to "on" state) and have been applied in optical imaging and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The other class consists of probes that show specific retention of the imaging label at the site of target interaction and these probes have found application in all different imaging modalities, including photoacoustic imaging and nuclear imaging. In this review, we present a comprehensive overview of bioresponsive imaging probes in order to discuss the various molecular imaging strategies. The focus of the present article is the rationale behind the design of bioresponsive molecular imaging probes and their potential in vivo application for the detection of endogenous molecular targets in pathologies such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. Copyright

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-308
Number of pages27
JournalContrast Media and Molecular Imaging
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015


  • Activatable probes
  • Biomarker
  • Bioresponsive agents
  • Molecular imaging


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