Micelles as Delivery Vehicles for Oligofluorene for Bioimaging

>With the successful development of organic/polymeric light emitting diodes, many organic and polymeric fluorophores with high quantum efficiencies and optical stability were synthesized. However, most of these materials which have excellent optical properties are insoluble in water, limiting their applications in biological fields. Herein, we used micelles formed from an amino-group-containing poly(ε-caprolactone)-block-poly(ethylene glycol) (PCL-b-PEG-NH2) to incorporate a hydrophobic blue emitter oligofluorene (OF) to enable its application in biological conditions. Although OF is completely insoluble in water, it was successfully transferred into aqueous solutions with a good retention of its photophysical properties. OF exhibited a high quantum efficiency of 0.84 in a typical organic solvent of tetrahydrofuran (THF). In addition, OF also showed a good quantum efficiency of 0.46 after being encapsulated into micelles. Two cells lines, human glioblastoma (U87MG) and esophagus premalignant (CP-A), were used to study the cellular internalization of the OF incorporated micelles. Results showed that the hydrophobic OF was located in the cytoplasm, which was confirmed by co-staining the cells with nucleic acid specific SYTO 9, lysosome specific LysoTracker Red®, and mitochondria specific MitoTracker Red. MTT assay indicated non-toxicity of the OF-incorporated micelles. This study will broaden the application of hydrophobic functional organic compounds, oligomers, and polymers with good optical properties to enable their applications in biological research fields.

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Source URL:http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0024425