Live imaging of follicle stimulating hormone receptors in gonads and bones using near infrared II fluorophore
In vivo imaging of hormone receptors provides the opportunity to visualize target tissues under hormonal control in live animals. Detecting longer-wavelength photons in the second near-infrared window (NIR-II, 1000–1700 nm) region affords reduced photon scattering in tissues accompanied by lower autofluorescence, leading to higher spatial resolution at up to centimeter tissue penetration depths. Here, we report the conjugation of a small molecular NIR-II fluorophore CH1055 to a follicle stimulating hormone (FSH-CH) for imaging ovaries and testes in live mice. After exposure to FSH-CH, specific NIR-II signals were found in cultured ovarian granulosa cells containing FSH receptors. Injection of FSH-CH allowed live imaging of ovarian follicles and testicular seminiferous tubules in female and male adult mice, respectively. Using prepubertal mice, NIR-II signals were detected in ovaries containing only preantral follicles. Resolving earlier controversies regarding the expression of FSH receptors in cultured osteoclasts, we detected for the first time specific FSH receptor signals in bones in vivo. The present imaging of FSH receptors in live animals using a ligand-conjugated NIR-II fluorophore with low cell toxicity and rapid clearance allows the development of non-invasive molecular imaging of diverse hormonal target cells in vivo.