Molecular Engineered Squaraine Nanoprobe for NIR-II/Photoacoustic Imaging and Photothermal Therapy of Metastatic Breast Cancer

Defan Yao, Yanshu Wang, Rongfeng Zou, Kexin Bian, Pei Liu, Shuzhan Shen, Weitao Yang, Bingbo Zhang, Dengbin Wang
ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces2020
Various squaraine dyes have been developed for biological imaging. Nevertheless, squaraine dyes with emission in the second window (NIR-II, 1000-1700 nm) have few reports largely due to the short of a simple and universal design strategy. In this contribution, molecular engineering strategy is explored to develop squaraine dyes with NIR-II emission. First, NIR-I squaraine dye SQ2 is constructed by the ethyl-grafted 1,8-naphtholactam as donor units and square acid as acceptor unit in a donor-acceptor-donor (D-A-D) structure. To red-shift the fluorescence emission into NIR-II window, malonitrile, as a forceful electron-withdrawing group, is introduced to strengthen square acid acceptor. As a result, the fluorescence spectrum of acceptor-engineered squaraine dye SQ1 exhibits a significant red-shift into NIR-II window. To translate NIR-II fluorophores SQ1 into effective theranostic agents, fibronectin-targeting SQ1 nanoprobe was constructed and showed excellent NIR-II imaging performance in angiography and tumor imaging, including lung metastatic foci in deep tissue. Furthermore, SQ1 nanoprobe can be used for photoacoustic imaging and photothermal ablation of tumors. This research demonstrates that the donor-acceptor engineering strategy is feasible and effective to develop NIR-II squaraine dyes.
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