Near-Infrared Photoacoustic Imaging Probe Responsive to Calcium

Photoacoustic imaging (PAI) is an attractive imaging modality that can volumetrically map the distribution of photoabsorbing molecules with deeper tissue penetration than multiphoton microscopy. To enable dynamic sensing of divalent cations via PAI, we have engineered a new reversible near-infrared probe that is more sensitive to calcium as compared to other biologically relevant cations. The metallochromic compound showed a strong reduction of its peak absorbance at 765 nm upon addition of calcium ions that was translated into robust signal changes in photoacoustic images. Therefore, the heptamethine cyanine dye will be an attractive scaffold to create a series of metallochromic sensors for molecular PAI.