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Development of biocompatible polymeric nanoparticles for in vivo NIR and FRET imaging

, : Development of biocompatible polymeric nanoparticles for in vivo NIR and FRET imaging. Bioconjugate Chemistry 23(5): 981-992

The majority of near-infrared (NIR) fluorophores are organic molecules that show significant overlap between the excitation and emission spectra and therefore exhibit high fluorescence backgrounds during in vivo imaging. Recently, cyanine dyes with a large Stokes shift have shown great promise for NIR imaging but often undergo rapid photodegradation and nonspecific protein adsorption. Alternatively, fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) is a promising technique to generate a larger gap between the excitation and emission maxima and thus can reduce the background signal. Here, we report the rational design of FRET-based polymeric nanoparticles for NIR and FRET imaging. The particles were assembled from diblock copolymers of poly(d,l-lactic-co-glycolic acid) and maleimide-activated poly(ethylene glycol), which were also encapsulated with both the donor (1,1'-dioctadecyl-3,3,3',3'-tetramethylindodicarbocyanine) and acceptor (1,1'-dioctadecyl-3,3,3',3'-tetramethylindotricarbocyanine) fluorophores. Because of their extreme hydrophobicity, thousands of fluorophores could be encapsulated inside a single particle without causing leakage. FRET resulted in a large Stokes shift (>100 nm) of the emission maxima, and the transfer efficiency could be fine-tuned by further adjusting the doping ratio of the donor and acceptor fluorophores. The optimized formulation was less than 100 nm in size, brighter than quantum dots, stable in biological media, and demonstrated similar biodistribution to most nanomaterials. Additional animal phantom studies demonstrated that the FRET imaging platform developed could have far-reaching applications in optical imaging.


PMID: 22482883

DOI: 10.1021/bc200637h

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