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Preclinical In Vivo Imaging


Pre-clinical imaging techniques including in vivo, ex vivo, and in vitro imaging enable the understanding of disease from cellular to whole animal models, and are used in the translation to and development of therapies in clinical-relevant models.

High-resolution in vivo imaging methods include radionuclide imaging and optical imaging. Radionuclide imaging methods utilize PET (positron emission tomography) and SPECT (single-photon emission tomography) techniques. Optical imaging methods utilize fluorescence, reflectance, or bioluminescence as a source of contrast.

Advances in the development of biologically-compatible NIRF (near-infrared fluorescence) dyes enable imaging of deep tissues in vivo. Imaging within the NIR spectrum (650 – 900 nm) allows maximum tissue penetration with minimal background autofluorescence both in culture and in vivo. Targeted, activatable, and vascular NIRF agents have been used to study cancer, inflammation, angiogenesis, infection, and vascular and other diseases.

Bioluminescent imaging exploits the emission of visible light at specific wavelengths based on reactions catalyzed by luciferases. The light from these enzymatic reactions typically has broad emission spectra that frequently extends beyond 600 nm, providing transmission of light through tissues. In a typical experiment, the bioluminescent agent (probe, cell line, or microorganism) is introduced into the animal model. Luciferin is injected immediately before data acquisition. Bioluminescent imaging has been used to study cancer, tumor growth and recession, bacterial and biofilm growth, and therapeutic agents such as antibiotics and cancer therapeutics.   

PerkinElmer offers radiolabeled, near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent, and bioluminescent agents for in vivo and preclinical imaging research, as well as 2D and 3D imagers for small animal imaging.

Products by research application


Agents and cell lines

  • Fluorescent agents

  • We offer NIR Fluorescent imaging agents that fall into three different categories:

    Activatable agents are optically silent upon injection but are activated in vivo through cleavage by specific protease biomarkers of disease. Benefits include biologically specific readouts and high signal-to-noise at the target biology. The FAST platform represents the next generation of agents.  Using a novel small molecule design, the FAST agents offer improved specificity, accelerated activation profiles and earlier imaging timepoints.

    Cat B FAST™
    Fluorescent imaging agent for selective imaging of cathepsin B proteinases (Cat B). Optically silent in the unactivated state, becoming highly fluorescent when activated.

    Cat K FAST™
    Fluorescent agent for imaging of cathepsin K in oncology applications involving metastasis to the bone as well as a broad range of bone applications including bone loss, tumor-induced osteolyis and bone changes following arthritis.

    Fluorescent agent for imaging of MMP (metalloproteinase) activity, which is involved involved in many disease-related phenomena including cancer propagation, invasion and metastasis, rheumatoid arthritis and areas of cardiovascular disease.

    Neutrophil Elastase
    Fluorescent neutrophil elastase-activatable agent that is optically silent upon injection and produces fluorescent signal after cleavage by elastase produced by neutrophil cells.

    ProSense® and ProSense FAST
    Versatile imaging of changes in cathepsin-based protease activity as seen in a number of pathological states and disease-related events including rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, atherosclerosis, angiogenesis and cardiovascular disease.

    Fluorescent imaging reagent that detects and quantifies PSA enzymatic activity at sites of prostate tumor growth.

    Fluorescent agent for imaging of renin-angiotensin pathway associated with hypertension, kidney and cardiovascular disease.

    Targeted Agents

    Targeted agents bind to specific biomarkers within the cell or animal: cell membrane constituents such as lipids, receptors, glycoproteins, etc. The use of targeted agents in preclinical imaging allows for highly specific targeting of particular biologies. 

    2-DG probe
    NIR targeted probe for non-invasive imaging of glucose uptake of tumors in vivo.

    In vivo targeting of membrane-bound phosphatidylserine exposed during the early stages of apoptosis.

    Fast-clearing, targeted probe which binds to negatively charged lipids on the bacterial cell membrane, enabling the monitoring of infection progression in real time.

    Bacterial Detection Probe
    NIR targeted probe for non-invasive detection of bacterial infections in vivo.

    NIR targeted probe specific to bombesin receptors, which are expressed in many types of cancers.

    COX-2 probe
    Imaging probe that specifically detects cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), produced in early-stage cancer cells.

    Highly specific and sensitive in detection of Folate Receptor protein.  Can be used to closely monitor and quantitate tumor growth and metabolism.

    GFR-Vivo Agent
    Near infrared (NIR) fluorescent-labeled form of inulin. Enables assessment of Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) by measurement of the rate of disappearance of labeled inulin from the blood.

    Fluorescent imaging agent that detects the tumor cell surface expression of carbonic anhydrase 9 (CA IX) protein, which increases in hypoxic regions within many tumors, especially in cervical, colorectal, non-small cell lung tumors.

    Potent antagonist targeting integrin αγβ3, expressed in oncology, atherosclerosis and angiogensis disease models.  Small molecule fluorochrome to label target ligand.  

    Fluorescent in vivo bisphosphonate imaging agent that targets areas of micro-calcifications and bone remodeling and enables imaging of bone growth and resorption.

    Near-infrared dye-labeled macromolecule that targets the vasculature and enables imaging of blood vessels and angiogenesis.

    Transferrin-Vivo Agent
    Near infrared (NIR) targeted fluorescent imaging agent consisting of recombinant transferrin conjugated to VivoTag dye, designed to bind to transferrin receptors expressed in cancer cells.

    Vascular/Physiologic Agents

    Vascular and physiologic agents are a range of highly fluorescent in vivo imaging molecules that remain highly stable and localized in the anatomy for various periods of time to enable imaging of disease physiology, vasculature, vascular permeability and angiogenesis.

    Near-infrared dye-labeled macromolecule for imaging of vascularity, perfusion and vascular permeability. Remains localized in vasculature for 0-4 hours and accumulates in tumors and arthritic joints at 24 hours.

    Near-infrared dye-labeled nanopaticles for imaging of vascularity, perfusion and vascular permeability with a long pharmacokinetic profile.

    Near-infrared, fluorescently-labeled macromolecule that may be used to monitor the effects of disease or drugs on gastric motility and or gastric emptying. It may also be used as an anatomical marker for the gastrointestinal tract.

    This is a small molecule fluorescence agent and is used as a control or in vascular permeability imaging.

    Small molecule fluorescence agent for imaging of vascularity, perfusion and vascular permeability with a short pharmacokinetic profile. This agent binds to albumin in blood for extended (30m-1h) circulation.

Fluorescent labeling agents

  • VivoTag™

  • Ideal agent for labeling proteins and antibodies, available as NHS esters and MAL.
  • VivoTrack™

  • Ideal agent for labeling cells for cell tracking studies.

Bioluminescent agents & cell lines

Radioimaging agents

Instruments and software options

2D planar imaging3D tomographic imaging
Can be used for:Bioluminescence or fluorescence imagingBioluminescence (BLT) or fluorescence (FMT) imaging
StrengthsInstrumentation is typically less expensive; simple and straightforward technology
Can be used to reconstruct the 3D position of the signal within the tissue, organ, or small animal; can determine quantitative distribution of the signal; can be combined with anatomical structure information for higher resolution modeling and multi-mode imaging of whole animal
ChallengesDepth cannot be resolved; biological tissue attenuates signal non-linearly; hard to image deep target tissues and organs; provides only relatively quantitative resultsInstrumentation is typically more expensive than 2D optical imaging instruments
Notes2D planar imaging tends to give better S:B with bioluminescent signals, compared to fluorescent signals3D tomographic imaging tends to perform better for fluorescent signals, compared to bioluminescent signals

In vivo imagers for fluorescence and bioluminescent agents

3D imagers

2D imagers

Other instruments

While near-infrared agents are ideal for 2D and 3D whole animal imaging, many researchers choose to do additional validation work on cells or tissues. Most fluorescent agents work well for these types of applications. One of the biggest limitations is that many microscopes do not image wavelengths in the far red range very efficiently. Because of this, we recommend using fluorescent agents in the 645-680 nm range for these types of applications.

Proper imaging techniques and general protocols

Mouse injections

Anesthetizing a mouse




How many mouse doses equals a rat dose?

As a rule of thumb, 10 mouse doses equals 1 rat dose.

What is a product's structure?

We do not release product structures due to proprietary information. If you have a specific question about the structure, please check with our technical support team.

Can I inject more/less of the product into my animal than recommended on the TD sheet?

You can technically inject as much or as little material into your animal as you wish. We only guarantee results based on our recommendations.

Can I use this product in clinical applications?

Our bioluminescent and fluorescent imaging products are for research purposes only.

Do I have to shave/nair the mice in order to image them on an FMT?

If using an FMT, the mice need to be hairless in the area that is being imaged. This can be done by either shaving, using a product like Nair, or using hairless mice.

I did not have enough liquid in my vial to do 10 mouse injections.

Each vial of liquid reagent contains a little excess to account for the inherant loss in the syringe. It may be difficult to remove all the volume from the vial unless the vial is centrifuged so that all the liquid is removed from the cap and sides.

Can I dry down a liquid product to solid?

Unfortunately, the products that are sold as a liquid are done so for specific reasons and drying them into a solid may have adverse effects on the chemistry. We do not make any guarantees and do not support a product that has been altered and stored in a state different then what it was delivered as.

Can I get lot specific information about a product? Certificate of Analysis?

All of the products pass through many QC steps to ensure that the material is within the specifications listed on the technical data sheets. We do not offer individualized lot information. If you have a concern about a lot that you received based on performance, technical support can be contacted to verify the lot information and results.


Please visit our Citations Library for references that use our pre-clinical imaging agents and instruments.

Products are for research use only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures.