Highly sensitive and selective light-up fluorescent probe for monitoring gallium and chromium ions in vitro and in vivo†
Over the past decades, gallium (Ga) compounds have gained importance in the field of cancer treatment. Gallium acts as an iron mimic and disturbs iron-dependent propagation and other processes in tumor cells. However, the toxicity of gallium was also well documented in vitro and in vivo in animals. Though the oral administration of gallium in humans is less toxic, it has also been shown that a long period of administration could induce tumor fibrosis. Chromium (Cr), a naturally occurring heavy metal, is commonly used in industrial processes and can cause severe health problems in humans. It has been found to be closely involved in the metabolism of nucleic acids, proteins and fats in humans. Cr(III) salts can be used as micronutrients and dietary supplements. However, similar to gallium (Ga3+), chromium (Cr3+) can build up to an excessive degree that is harmful to the human body. Therefore, it would be of great interest to develop chemosensing for the selective and sensitive detection of gallium and chromium ions in vitro and in vivo. Herein, we reported that an NBD-based (4-chloro-7-nitrobenzo-2-oxa-1,3-diazole) fluorescent probe (NBDT) was fabricated with demonstrated extraordinary specificity and sensitivity. A swift response toward Ga3+ and Cr3+ ions was discovered using fluorescence enhancement over a wide pH range and with cycle stability. Furthermore, lighted up by Ga3+ and Cr3+ ions in vitro, this NBDT sensor was successfully applied to detect exogenous Ga3+ and Cr3+ ions in MDA-MB-231 and HepG2 cells. Additionally, using zebrafish as the in vivo model, we demonstrated the capability of this NBDT for detecting and imaging Ga3+ and Cr3+ ions in zebrafish. Taken together, this NBDT has indicated great potential for detecting and monitoring Ga3+ and Cr3+ ions in vitro and in vivo.