American Chemical Society
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A Probe for the Detection of Hypoxic Cancer Cells

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journal contribution
posted on 2017-07-25, 00:00 authored by Shenzheng Luo, Rongfeng Zou, Junchen Wu, Markita P. Landry
Hypoxia is a common feature of tumor cells. Nitroreductase (NTR), a common biomarker of hypoxia, has been widely used to evaluate the extent of tumor hypoxia. In this study, three fluorescent probes (FBN-1–3) were synthesized to monitor the extent of hypoxia in cancer cells in real time. FBN-1–3 were composed of a fluorescein analogue and one of three different aromatic nitro groups. Of these probes, FBN-1 showed excellent sensitivity and selectivity in detecting hypoxia via a reduction in O2 concentration. Confocal fluorescence imaging and flow cytometry demonstrated that HepG-2, A549, and SKOV-3 cells incubated with FBN-1 under reduced oxygen conditions showed significantly enhanced fluorescence. A mouse HepG-2 tumor model confirmed that FBN-1 responds rapidly to NTR and can be used to evaluate the degree of tumor hypoxia. The changes in intra- and extracellular NTR in tumor cells were also concurrently monitored, which did not reveal a link between NTR concentration and degree of hypoxia. Our work provides a functional probe for tumor hypoxia, and our results suggest the fluorescent response of our probe is due to a decrease in O2 concentration, and not NTR concentration.