pH-Activatable tumor-targeting gold nanoprobe for near-infrared fluorescence/CT dual-modal imaging in vivo.


State Key Laboratory of Bioreactor Engineering, Shanghai Key Laboratory of Chemical Biology, School of Pharmacy, East China University of Science and Technology, Shanghai 200237, China. Electronic address: [Email]


One hallmark of solid tumors, regardless of its type or stage, is the existence of an unsual acidic microenvironment, which has been considered a specific and ideal target for cancer imaging. Therefore, we developed a pH-activatable nanoprobe GNPs-CKL-FA for near-infrared fluorescence (NIR) and computed tomography (CT) imaging of tumors. This nanoprobe consists of a near-infrared fluorophore (Cy5.5), a pH-sensitive ketal linker, and gold nanoparticles (GNPs) decorated with folates that could bind to tumor cells' surface receptors to promote cellular internalization. This ability of folate to mediate tumor targeting and accelerate internalization has been confirmed by in vitro experiments with HeLa cells. The fluorescence of the nanoprobes successfully activated by low intracellular pH, especially in more acidic organelles. Furthermore, fluorescence signals increased to a greater extent when the pH in tumors was lowered by injection of acetate buffer and isoproterenol. The CT contrast of GNPs-CKL-FA was obtained after administering intravenously to HeLa subcutaneous tumor-bearing mice. These results suggest that GNPs-CKL-FA has the potential to be a pH-activatable fluorescent nanoprobe combined with CT contrast agent for tumor targeted imaging.


Computed tomography,Fluorescence imaging,Gold nanoparticles,Nanoprobe,Tumor microenvironment,

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