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Biomed Mater. 2013 Feb;8(1):014109. doi: 10.1088/1748-6041/8/1/014109. Epub 2013 Jan 25.

Highly charged cyanine fluorophores for trafficking scaffold degradation.

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Department of Chemistry, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30303, USA.


Biodegradable scaffolds have been extensively used in the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. However, noninvasive monitoring of in vivo scaffold degradation is still lacking. In order to develop a real-time trafficking technique, a series of meso-brominated near-infrared (NIR) fluorophores were synthesized and conjugated to biodegradable gelatin scaffolds. Since the pentamethine cyanine core is highly lipophilic, the side chain of each fluorophore was modified with either quaternary ammonium salts or sulfonate groups. The physicochemical properties such as lipophilicity and net charge of fluorophores played a key role in the fate of NIR-conjugated scaffolds in vivo after biodegradation. The positively charged fluorophore-conjugated scaffold fragments were found in salivary glands, lymph nodes, and most of the hepatobiliary excretion route. However, halogenated fluorophores intensively accumulated into lymph nodes and the liver. Interestingly, balanced-charged gelatin scaffolds were degraded into urine in a short period of time. These results demonstrate that the noninvasive optical imaging using NIR fluorophores can be useful for the translation of biodegradable scaffolds into the clinic.

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