Theranostics 2019; 9(14):4047-4065. doi:10.7150/thno.33228


Chemiluminescence and Bioluminescence Imaging for Biosensing and Therapy: In Vitro and In Vivo Perspectives

Yongcun Yan1,4, Pengfei Shi1,3, Weiling Song2, Sai Bi1,3,4✉

1. Center for Marine Observation and Communications, Research Center for Intelligent and Wearable Technology, College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Qingdao University, Qingdao 266071, P. R. China
2. Laboratory of Optic-electric Sensing and Analytical Chemistry for Life Science, MOE, Shandong Key Laboratory of Biochemical Analysis; Key Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry for Life Science in Universities of Shandong; College of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering, Qingdao University of Science and Technology, Qingdao 266042, P. R. China
3. Collaborative Innovation Center of Tumor Marker Detection Technology, Equipment and Diagnosis-Therapy Integration in Universities of Shandong, Shandong Province Key Laboratory of Detection Technology for Tumor Markers, College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Linyi University, Linyi 276000, P. R. China
4. Jinan Guoke Medical Engineering Technology Development Co., Ltd., Jinan 250101, P. R. China

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) license ( See for full terms and conditions.
Yan Y, Shi P, Song W, Bi S. Chemiluminescence and Bioluminescence Imaging for Biosensing and Therapy: In Vitro and In Vivo Perspectives. Theranostics 2019; 9(14):4047-4065. doi:10.7150/thno.33228. Available from

File import instruction


Chemiluminescence (CL) and bioluminescence (BL) imaging technologies, which require no external light source so as to avoid the photobleaching, background interference and autoluminescence, have become powerful tools in biochemical analysis and biomedical science with the development of advanced imaging equipment. CL imaging technology has been widely applied to high-throughput detection of a variety of analytes because of its high sensitivity, high efficiency and high signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). Using luciferase and fluorescent proteins as reporters, various BL imaging systems have been developed innovatively for real-time monitoring of diverse molecules in vivo based on the reaction between luciferin and the substrate. Meanwhile, the kinetics of protein interactions even in deep tissues has been studied by BL imaging. In this review, we summarize in vitro and in vivo applications of CL and BL imaging for biosensing and therapy. We first focus on in vitro CL imaging from the view of improving the sensitivity. Then, in vivo CL applications in cells and tissues based on different CL systems are demonstrated. Subsequently, the recent in vitro and in vivo applications of BL imaging are summarized. Finally, we provide the insight into the development trends and future perspectives of CL and BL imaging technologies.

Keywords: chemiluminescence, bioluminescence, bioimaging, biosensing, biomedicine