Pitfalls and opportunities in quantitative fluorescence-based nanomedicine studies – A commentary

Jens B. Simonsen*, Emil B. Kromann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReviewpeer-review

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Fluorescence-based techniques are prevalent in studies of nanomedicine-targeting to cells and tissues. However, fluorescence-based studies are rarely quantitative, thus prohibiting direct comparisons of nanomedicine-performance across studies. With this Commentary, we aim to provoke critical thinking about experimental design by treating some often-overlooked pitfalls in ‘quantitative’ fluorescence-based experimentation. Focusing on fluorescence-labeled nanoparticles, we cover mechanisms like solvent-interactions and fluorophore-dissociation, which disqualify the assumption that ‘a higher fluorescence readout’ translates directly to ‘a better targeting efficacy’. With departure in recent literature, we propose guidelines for circumventing these pitfalls in studies of tissue-accumulation and cell-uptake, thus covering fluorescence-based techniques like bulk solution fluorescence measurements, fluorescence microscopy, flow cytometry, and infrared fluorescence imaging. With this, we hope to lay a foundation for more ‘quantitative thinking’ during experimental design, enabling (for example) the estimation and reporting of actual numbers of fluorescent nanoparticles accumulated in cells and organs.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of controlled release
Pages (from-to)660-667
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Biodistribution
  • Counting nanoparticles
  • Flow cytometry
  • Fluorescence
  • Fluorescence microscopy
  • Nanomedicines
  • Nanoparticles
  • Quantitative
  • Uptake


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