Fluorescent imaging of bacterial infections and recent advances made with multimodal radiopharmaceuticals

Mick M. Welling*, Albertus W. Hensbergen, Anton Bunschoten, Aldrik H. Velders, Henk Scheper, Wiep Klaas Smits, Meta Roestenberg, Fijs W.B. van Leeuwen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Today, both radioactive SPECT and PET imaging radiopharmaceuticals are used for clinical diagnosis of bacterial infections. Due to the possible applications in image-guided surgery, fluorescent imaging of infections has gained interest. We here present the highlights and recent developments in the use of fluorescence imaging for bacterial infections. In this overview, we also include the latest developments in multimodal bacterial imaging strategies that combine radioactive and fluorescent imaging. Based on this literature, we present our future perspectives for the field including the translational potential. Methods: In the current review, we complement earlier reports with the most recent fluorescent and multimodal radiopharmaceuticals for bacterial infection imaging. Where possible, in this review, the chemical structure of the compounds and clinical images were shown. Results: A total of 35 out of 77 original articles on pre-clinical and clinical imaging of bacterial infections with fluorescent tracers and multimodality radiopharmaceuticals were included for reviewing. Conclusion: In our view, the highest translational potential lies with compounds that are based on targeting vectors that are specific for bacteria: e.g., fluorescently labelled UBI 29–41 , polymyxin B, vancomycin, ZnDPA and a M. tuberculosis-specific β-lactamase-cleavable linker CNIP800. Multimodal concepts using dually labelled UBI 29–41 , vancomycin, and ZnDPA help connect optical imaging to the more traditional use of radiopharmaceuticals in infectious diseases. Multimodal bacterial imaging is a promising strategy not only to diagnose bacterial infections but also to evaluate the effectivity of surgical treatment for infections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-138
JournalClinical and Translational Imaging
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • Bacterial infection
  • Fluorescence imaging
  • Infectious diseases
  • Molecular imaging
  • Radioactivity

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