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Bioconjug Chem. 2010 Jul 21;21(7):1362-8. doi: 10.1021/bc100184w.

Near-infrared fluorescent probe for imaging of pancreatic beta cells.

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Center for Systems Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.


The ability to image and ultimately quantitate beta-cell mass in vivo will likely have far reaching implications in the study of diabetes biology, in the monitoring of disease progression or response to treatment, and for drug development. Here, using animal models, we report on the synthesis, characterization, and intravital microscopic imaging properties of a near-infrared fluorescent exendin-4 analogue with specificity for the GLP-1 receptor on beta cells (E4(K12)-Fl). The agent demonstrated subnanomolar EC(50) binding concentrations, with high specificity and binding that could be inhibited by GLP-1R agonists. Following intravenous administration to mice, pancreatic islets were readily distinguishable from exocrine pancreas, achieving target-to-background ratios within the pancreas of 6:1, as measured by intravital microscopy. Serial imaging revealed rapid accumulation kinetics (with initial signal within the islets detectable within 3 min and peak fluorescence within 20 min of injection), making this an ideal agent for in vivo imaging.

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