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Biomed Opt Express. 2011 Jul 1;2(7):2012-21. doi: 10.1364/BOE.2.002012. Epub 2011 Jun 22.

Encapsulation of FITC to monitor extracellular pH: a step towards the development of red blood cells as circulating blood analyte biosensors.


A need exists for a long-term, minimally-invasive system to monitor blood analytes. For certain analytes, such as glucose in the case of diabetics, a continuous system would help reduce complications. Current methods suffer significant drawbacks, such as low patient compliance for the finger stick test or short lifetime (i.e., 3-7 days) and required calibrations for continuous glucose monitors. Red blood cells (RBCs) are potential biocompatible carriers of sensing assays for long-term monitoring. We demonstrate that RBCs can be loaded with an analyte-sensitive fluorescent dye. In the current study, FITC, a pH-sensitive fluorescent dye, is encapsulated within resealed red cell ghosts. Intracellular FITC reports on extracellular pH: fluorescence intensity increases as extracellular pH increases because the RBC rapidly equilibrates to the pH of the external environment through the chloride-bicarbonate exchanger. The resealed ghost sensors exhibit an excellent ability to reversibly track pH over the physiological pH range with a resolution down to 0.014 pH unit. Dye loading efficiency varies from 30% to 80%. Although complete loading is ideal, it is not necessary, as the fluorescence signal is an integration of all resealed ghosts within the excitation volume. The resealed ghosts could serve as a long-term (>1 to 2 months), continuous, circulating biosensor for the management of diseases, such as diabetes.


(160.2540) Fluorescent and luminescent materials; (170.1470) Blood or tissue constituent monitoring; (280.0280) Remote sensing and sensors; (280.4788) Optical sensing and sensors

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