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Bioconjug Chem. 2014 Feb 19;25(2):362-9. doi: 10.1021/bc4005238. Epub 2014 Feb 3.

Activatable organic near-infrared fluorescent probes based on a bacteriochlorin platform: synthesis and multicolor in vivo imaging with a single excitation.

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  • 1Molecular Imaging Program, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health , Bethesda, Maryland 20892, United States.


Near infrared (NIR) fluorescent probes are ideal for in vivo imaging because they offer deeper tissue penetration and lower background autofluorescence. Although most fluorophores in this range are cyanine-based dyes, several new classes of fluorescent NIR probes have been developed. In this study, we developed organic bacteriochlorin derivatives, NMP4 and NMP5, which are excited with a single green light and emit different narrow, well-resolved bands in the NIR (peak of 739 and 770 nm for NMP4 and NMP5, respectively). When conjugated to galactosyl-human serum albumin (hGSA) or glucosyl-human serum albumin (glu-HSA), both targeting H-type lectins, including the β-d-galactose receptor expressing on ovarian cancer, these agents become targeted, activatable, single excitation, multicolor NIR fluorescence probes. After conjugation to either glu-HSA or hGSA, substantial quenching of fluorescence occurs that is reversed after cell binding and internalization. In vitro studies showed higher cancer cell uptake with NMP4 or NMP5 conjugated to hGSA compared to the same conjugates with glu-HSA. In vivo single excitation two-color imaging was performed after intraperitoneal injection of these agents into mice with disseminated ovarian cancer. Excited with a single green light, distinct NIR emission spectra from each fluorophore were detected and could be distinguished with spectral unmixing. In vivo results using a red fluorescence protein (RFP) labeled tumor model of disseminated ovarian cancer demonstrated high sensitivity and specificity for all probes. The success of single excitation, 2-color NIR fluorescence imaging with a new class of bacteriochlorin-based activatable fluorophores, NMP4 and NMP5, paves the way for further exploration of noncyanine dye-based NIR fluorophores.

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