nn8b03138_si_005.cif (627.17 kB)

Bright Near-Infrared Aggregation-Induced Emission Luminogens with Strong Two-Photon Absorption, Excellent Organelle Specificity, and Efficient Photodynamic Therapy Potential

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posted on 03.08.2018, 00:00 by Zheng Zheng, Tianfu Zhang, Haixiang Liu, Yuncong Chen, Ryan T. K. Kwok, Chao Ma, Pengfei Zhang, Herman H. Y. Sung, Ian D. Williams, Jacky W. Y. Lam, Kam Sing Wong, Ben Zhong Tang
Far-red and near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent materials possessing the characteristics of strong two-photon absorption and aggregation-induced emission (AIE) as well as specific targeting capability are much-sought-after for bioimaging and therapeutic applications due to their deep penetration depth and high resolution. Herein, a series of dipolar far-red and NIR AIE luminogens with a strong push–pull effect are designed and synthesized. The obtained fluorophores display bright far-red and NIR solid-state fluorescence with a high quantum yield of up to 30%, large Stokes shifts of up to 244 nm, and large two-photon absorption cross-sections of up to 887 GM. A total of three neutral AIEgens show specific lipid droplet (LD)-targeting capability, while the one with cationic and lipophilic characteristics tends to target the mitochondria specifically. All of the molecules demonstrate good biocompatibility, high brightness, and superior photostability. They also serve as efficient two-photon fluorescence-imaging agents for the clear visualization of LDs or mitochondria in living cells and tissues with deep tissue penetration (up to 150 μm) and high contrast. These AIEgens can efficiently generate singlet oxygen upon light irradiation for the photodynamic ablation of cancer cells. All of these intriguing results prove that these far-red and NIR AIEgens are excellent candidates for the two-photon fluorescence imaging of LDs or mitochondria and organelle-targeting photodynamic cancer therapy.

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