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Cell Death Dis. 2013 Jan 24;4:e473. doi: 10.1038/cddis.2012.207.

Optical imaging of cell death in traumatic brain injury using a heat shock protein-90 alkylator.

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  • 1Experimental Molecular Imaging, Department of Radiology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.


Traumatic brain injury is a major public health concern and is characterised by both apoptotic and necrotic cell death in the lesion. Anatomical imaging is usually used to assess traumatic brain injuries and there is a need for imaging modalities that provide complementary cellular information. We sought to non-invasively image cell death in a mouse model of traumatic brain injury using a near-infrared fluorescent conjugate of a synthetic heat shock protein-90 alkylator, 4-(N-(S-glutathionylacetyl) amino) phenylarsonous acid (GSAO). GSAO labels both apoptotic and necrotic cells coincident with loss of plasma membrane integrity. The optical GSAO specifically labelled apoptotic and necrotic cells in culture and did not accumulate in healthy organs or tissues in the living mouse body. The conjugate is a very effective imager of cell death in brain lesions. The optical GSAO was detected by fluorescence intensity and GSAO bound to dying/dead cells was detected from prolongation of the fluorescence lifetime. An optimal signal-to-background ratio was achieved as early as 3 h after injection of the probe and the signal intensity positively correlated with both lesion size and probe concentration. This optical GSAO offers a convenient and robust means to non-invasively image apoptotic and necrotic cell death in brain and other lesions.

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