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Visible and Near-Infrared Dual-Emission Carbogenic Small Molecular Complex with High RNA Selectivity and Renal Clearance for Nucleolus and Tumor Imaging

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journal contribution
posted on 05.10.2016, 00:00 authored by Hua He, Zhencai Wang, Tiantian Cheng, Xu Liu, Xiaojuan Wang, Junying Wang, Hao Ren, Yawei Sun, Yanzhuo Song, Jiang Yang, Yongqing Xia, Shengjie Wang, Xiaodong Zhang, Fang Huang
Fluorescence imaging requires bioselective, sensitive, nontoxic molecular probes to detect the precise location of lesions for fundamental research and clinical applications. Typical inorganic semiconductor nanomaterials with large sizes (>10 nm) can offer high-quality fluorescence imaging due to their fascinating optical properties but are limited to low selectivity as well as slow clearance pathway. We here report an N- and O-rich carbogenic small molecular complex (SMC, MW < 1000 Da) that exhibits high quantum yield (up to 80%), nucleic acid-binding enhanced excitation-dependent fluorescence (EDF), and a near-infrared (NIR) emission peaked at 850 nm with an ultralarge Stokes shift (∼500 nm). SMCs show strong rRNA affinity, and the resulting EDF enhancement allows multicolor visualization of nucleoli in cells for clear statistics. Furthermore, SMCs can be efficiently accumulated in tumor in vivo after injection into tumor-bearing mice. The NIR emission affords high signal/noise ratio imaging for delineating the true extent of tumor. Importantly, about 80% of injected SMCs can be rapidly excreted from the body in 24 h. No appreciable toxicological responses were observed up to 30 days by hematological, biochemical, and pathological examinations. SMCs have great potential as a promising nucleolus- and tumor-specific agent for medical diagnoses and biomedical research.