Recent development of molecular imaging probes for fluorescence-guided surgery has shown great progresses for determining tumor margin to execute the tissue resection. Here we synthesize the fluorescent gold nanoparticles conjugated with diatrizoic acid and nucleolin-targeted AS1411 aptamer. The nanoparticle conjugates exhibit high water-solubility, good biocompatibility, visible fluorescence and strong X-ray attenuation for computed tomography (CT) contrast enhancement. The fluorescent nanoparticle conjugates are applied as a molecular contrast agent to reveal the tumor location in CL1-5 tumor-bearing mice by CT imaging. Furthermore, the orange-red fluorescence emitting from the conjugates in the CL1-5 tumor can be easily visualized by the naked eyes. After the resection, the IVIS measurements show that the fluorescence signal of the nanoparticle conjugates in the tumor is greatly enhanced in comparison to that in the controlled experiment. Our work has shown potential application of functionalized nanoparticles as a dual-function imaging agent in clinical fluorescence-guided surgery.
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