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Biocompatible Nanoparticles with Aggregation-Induced Emission Characteristics as Far-Red/Near-Infrared Fluorescent Bioprobes for In Vitro and In Vivo Imaging Applications

Authors

  • Wei Qin,

    1. Department of Chemistry, The Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China
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  • Dan Ding,

    1. Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, National University of Singapore, 117576, Singapore
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  • Jianzhao Liu,

    1. Department of Chemistry, The Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China
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  • Wang Zhang Yuan,

    1. Department of Chemistry, The Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China
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  • Yong Hu,

    1. National Laboratory of Solid-State Microstructure, Department of Material Science and Engineering, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China
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  • Bin Liu,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, National University of Singapore, 117576, Singapore
    2. Institute of Materials Research Engineering, 3 Research Link, 117602, Singapore
    • Bin Liu, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, National University of Singapore, 117576, Singapore

      Ben Zhong Tang, Department of Chemistry, The Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China.

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  • Ben Zhong Tang

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Chemistry, The Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China
    2. Institute of Materials Research Engineering, 3 Research Link, 117602, Singapore
    • Bin Liu, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, National University of Singapore, 117576, Singapore

      Ben Zhong Tang, Department of Chemistry, The Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China.

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Abstract

Light emission of 2-(2,6-bis((E)-4-(diphenylamino)styryl)-4H-pyran-4-ylidene)malononitrile (TPA-DCM) is weakened by aggregate formation. Attaching tetraphenylethene (TPE) units as terminals to TPA-DCM dramatically changes its emission behavior: the resulting fluorogen, 2-(2,6-bis((E)-4-(phenyl(4′-(1,2,2-triphenylvinyl)-[1,1′-biphenyl]-4-yl)amino)styryl)-4H-pyran-4-ylidene)malononitrile (TPE-TPA-DCM), is more emissive in the aggregate state, showing the novel phenomenon of aggregation-induced emission (AIE). Formulation of TPE-TPA-DCM using bovine serum albumin (BSA) as the polymer matrix yields uniformly sized protein nanoparticles (NPs) with high brightness and low cytotoxicity. Applications of the fluorogen-loaded BSA NPs for in vitro and in vivo far-red/near-infrared (FR/NIR) bioimaging are successfully demonstrated using MCF-7 breast-cancer cells and a murine hepatoma-22 (H22)-tumor-bearing mouse model, respectively. The AIE-active fluorogen-loaded BSA NPs show an excellent cancer cell uptake and a prominent tumor-targeting ability in vivo due to the enhanced permeability and retention effect.

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