A series of cationic, zwitterionic and anionic macrocyclic europium complexes has been prepared incorporating a N or C- linked acridone chromophore that allows sensitisation of Eu emission following excitation at 390–410nm. Each of these complexes selectively binds bicarbonate at physiological pH and reversible binding is signalled by a change in the form and relative intensity of the Eu emission spectrum. Affinity for bicarbonate is regulated by overall complex charge and falls within the range required for intracellular or extracellular analyses. Monitoring the ratio of the intensity of Eu emission at up to three wavelengths, e.g. 618/588 or 618/702 nm allows the solution concentration of bicarbonate to be deduced in a background of competing anions such as lactate, citrate and phosphate. Preliminary screens reveal the complexes to be non-toxic to NIH-3T3 cells and to be taken inside the cell, encouraging further study.
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Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry
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