Imaging free zinc levels in vivo - What can be learned?

Luis De Leon-Rodriguez, Angelo Josue M Lubag, A. Dean Sherry

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Our ever-expanding knowledge about the role of zinc in biology includes its role in redox modulation, immune response, neurotransmission, reproduction, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimers disease is galvanizing interest in detecting and monitoring the various forms of Zn(II) in biological systems. This paper reviews reported strategies for detecting and tracking of labile or "free" unchelated Zn(II) in tissues. While different bound structural forms of Zn(II) have been identified and studied in vitro by multiple techniques, very few molecular imaging methods have successfully tracked the ion in vivo. A number of MRI and optical strategies have now been reported for detection of free Zn(II) in cells and tissues but only a few have been applied successfully in vivo. A recent report of an MRI sensor for in vivo tracking of Zn(II) released from pancreatic β-cells during insulin secretion exemplifies the promise of rational design of new Zn(II) sensors for tracking this biologically important ion in vivo. Such studies promise to provide new insights into zinc trafficking in vivo and the critical role of this ion in many human diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-23
Number of pages12
JournalInorganica Chimica Acta
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012


  • Imaging free zinc
  • MRI
  • Tissue zinc levels
  • Zinc homeostasis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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