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Semiconducting polymer nanoparticles as photoacoustic molecular imaging probes in living mice.

  • Author(s): Pu, Kanyi
  • Shuhendler, Adam J
  • Jokerst, Jesse V
  • Mei, Jianguo
  • Gambhir, Sanjiv S
  • Bao, Zhenan
  • Rao, Jianghong
  • et al.
Abstract

Photoacoustic 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, photoacoustic molecular imaging probes have to be developed. Here, we introduce near-infrared light absorbing semiconducting polymer nanoparticles as a new class of contrast agents for photoacoustic molecular imaging. These nanoparticles can produce a stronger signal than the commonly used single-walled carbon nanotubes and gold nanorods on a per mass basis, permitting whole-body lymph-node photoacoustic mapping in living mice at a low systemic injection mass. Furthermore, the semiconducting polymer nanoparticles possess high structural flexibility, narrow photoacoustic spectral profiles and strong resistance to photodegradation and oxidation, enabling the development of the first near-infrared ratiometric photoacoustic probe for in vivo real-time imaging of reactive oxygen species--vital chemical mediators of many diseases. These results demonstrate semiconducting polymer nanoparticles to be an ideal nanoplatform for developing photoacoustic molecular probes.

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