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Adv Mater. 2017 May;29(17). doi: 10.1002/adma.201606129. Epub 2017 Feb 22.

Ratiometric Photoacoustic Molecular Imaging for Methylmercury Detection in Living Subjects.

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School of Engineering, China Pharmaceutical University, Nanjing, 210009, P. R. China.
Laboratory of Molecular Imaging and Nanomedicine (LOMIN), National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, MD, 20892, USA.
Guangdong Key Laboratory for Biomedical Measurements and Ultrasound Imaging, School of Biomedical Engineering, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen, 518060, P. R. China.
Key Laboratory of Optoelectronic Devices and Systems of Ministry of Education and Guangdong Province, College of Optoelectronic Engineering, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen, 518060, P. R. China.


Photoacoustic molecular imaging is an emerging and promising diagnostic tool for heavy metal ions detection. Methylmercury (MeHg+ ) is one of the most potent neurotoxins, which damages the brain and nervous system of human beings through fish consumption. The development of a selective and sensitive method for MeHg+ detection is highly desirable. In this Communication, we develope a chemoselective photoacoustic sensor (LP-hCy7) composed of the liposome (LP) and MeHg+ -responsive near-infrared (NIR) cyanine dye (hCy7) for MeHg+ detection within living subjects, such as zebrafish and mouse. The as-prepared LP-hCy7 nanoprobe displays unique dual-shift NIR absorbance peaks and produces a normalized turn-on response after the reaction of MeHg+ and hCy7 through a mercury-promoted cyclization reaction. The absorbance intensities of LP-hCy7 nanoprobe at 690 and 860 nm are decreased and increased, respectively. The ratiometric photoacoustic signal (PA860/PA690) is noticeably increased in the presence of MeHg+ . These findings not only provide a ratiometric photoacoustic molecular imaging probe for the detection of metal ions in vivo, but also provides a tool for spectroscopic photoacoustic molecular imaging.


methylmercury detection; photoacoustic imaging; ratiometric probe

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