RGD-conjugated two-photon absorbing near-IR emitting fluorescent probes for tumor vasculature imaging
Observation of the activation and inhibition of angiogenesis processes is important in the progression of cancer. Application of targeting peptides, such as a small peptide that contains adjacent L-arginine (R), glycine (G) and L-aspartic acid (D) residues can afford high selectivity and deep penetration in vessel imaging. To facilitate deep tissue vasculature imaging, probes that can be excited via two-photon absorption (2PA) in the near-infrared (NIR) and subsequently emit in the NIR are essential. In this study, the enhancement of tissue image quality with RGD conjugates was investigated with new NIR-emitting pyranyl fluorophore derivatives in two-photon fluorescence microscopy. Linear and nonlinear photophysical properties of the new probes were comprehensively characterized; significantly the probes exhibited good 2PA over a broad spectral range from 700-1100 nm. Cell and tissue images were then acquired and examined, revealing deep penetration and high contrast with the new pyranyl RGD-conjugates up to 350 mu m in tumor tissue.