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Small. 2013 Nov 11;9(21):3659-69. doi: 10.1002/smll.201203211. Epub 2013 May 6.

Liposomal encapsulation of a near-infrared fluorophore enhances fluorescence quenching and reliable whole body optical imaging upon activation in vivo.

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Department of Experimental Radiology, Institute of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology I, Jena University Hospital - Friedrich, Schiller University Jena, Erlanger Allee 101, 07747 Jena, Germany.


In the past decade, there has been significant progress in the development of water soluble near-infrared fluorochromes for use in a wide range of imaging applications. Fluorochromes with high photo and thermal stability, sensitivity, adequate pharmacological properties and absorption/emission maxima within the near infrared window (650-900 nm) are highly desired for in vivo imaging, since biological tissues show very low absorption and auto-fluorescence at this spectrum window. Taking these properties into consideration, a myriad of promising near infrared fluorescent probes has been developed recently. However, a hallmark of most of these probes is a rapid clearance in vivo, which hampers their application. It is hypothesized that encapsulation of the near infrared fluorescent dye DY-676-COOH, which undergoes fluorescence quenching at high concentrations, in the aqueous interior of liposomes will result in protection and fluorescence quenching, which upon degradation by phagocytes in vivo will lead to fluorescence activation and enable imaging of inflammation. Liposomes prepared with high concentrations of DY-676-COOH reveal strong fluorescence quenching. It is demonstrated that the non-targeted PEGylated fluorescence-activatable liposomes are taken up predominantly by phagocytosis and degraded in lysosomes. Furthermore, in zymosan-induced edema models in mice, the liposomes are taken up by monocytes and macrophages which migrate to the sites of inflammation. Opposed to free DY-676-COOH, prolonged stability and retention of liposomal-DY-676-COOH is reflected in a significant increase in fluorescence intensity of edema. Thus, protected delivery and fluorescence quenching make the DY-676-COOH-loaded liposomes a highly promising contrast agent for in vivo optical imaging of inflammatory diseases.


fluorescence-quenching; fluorochrome; inflammation; liposomes; optical imaging

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