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Exploiting the Twisted Intramolecular Charge Transfer Effect to Construct a Wash-Free Solvatochromic Fluorescent Lipid Droplet Probe for Fatty Liver Disease Diagnosis

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posted on 22.02.2022, 20:33 by Cheng-Juan Wu, Xin-Yu Li, Ting Zhu, Mengying Zhao, Zhuoyue Song, Shijie Li, Guo-Gang Shan, Guangle Niu
The prominent pathological feature of fatty liver disease lesions is excessive fat accumulation in lipid droplets in hepatocytes. Thus, developing fluorescent lipid droplet-specific probes with high permeability and a high imaging contrast provides a robust tool for diagnosing fatty liver diseases. Herein, we rationally developed a novel donor–acceptor lipophilic fluorescent probe ANI with high photostability for wash-free visualization of lipid droplets and fatty liver disease characteristics. ANI showed a typical twisted intramolecular charge transfer effect with very faint fluorescence in high-polar solvents, but dramatically boosted emissions in low-polar environments. The solvatochromic probe can selectively light up lipid droplets with a high contrast in a wash-free manner. Further use of ANI to reveal the excessive accumulation of lipid droplets with a significantly large size in the liver tissues from the fatty liver disease model mice was successfully demonstrated. The remarkable imaging performances rendered ANI an alternative tool for accurately evaluating fatty liver disease in intraoperative diagnosis.