Semiconducting polymer nanoparticles as photoacoustic molecular imaging probes in living mice

Kanyi Pu, Adam J. Shuhendler, Jesse V. Jokerst, Jianguo Mei, Sanjiv S. Gambhir, Zhenan Bao, Jianghong Rao
Nature Nanotechnology2014
Photoacoustic (PA) imaging holds great promise for the visualization of physiology and pathology at the molecular level with deep tissue penetration and fine spatial resolution. To fully utilize this potential, PA molecular imaging probes have to be developed. Herein we introduce near infrared (NIR) light absorbing semiconducting polymer nanoparticles (SPNs) as a new class of contrast agents for PA molecular imaging. SPNs can produce stronger signal than commonly used single- wall carbon nanotubes and gold nanorods on a per mass basis, permitting whole-body lymph node PA mapping in living mice at a low systematic injection mass. Furthermore, SPNs possess high structural flexibility, narrow PA spectral profiles, and strong resistance to photodegradation and oxidation, which enables development of the first NIR ratiometric PA probe for in vivo real-time imaging of reactive oxygen species—vital chemical mediators of many diseases. These results demonstrate SPNs an ideal nanoplatform for developing PA molecular probes.
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