Bioapplications of small molecule Aza-BODIPY: from rational structural design to in vivo investigations
Boron-dipyrromethene (BODIPY) belongs to a family of organoboron compounds, commercialized as fluorescent dyes by Invitrogen™. As BODIPY derivatives, Aza-boron-dipyrromethene (Aza-BODIPY) dyes display superior spectral performances, such as red-shifted spectra and high molar extinction coefficients, and are considered to be extremely attractive organic materials for various bioapplications. Therefore, scientists from different disciplinary backgrounds would benefit from a review that provides a timely summary and outlook regarding Aza-BODIPY dyes. In this review, we report on the latest advances of Aza-BODIPY dyes, along with the empirical design guidelines and photophysical property manipulation of these dyes. In addition, we will discuss the biological applications of Aza-BODIPY dyes in probing various biological activities, as well as in fluorescence bioimaging/detection, newly-emerging photoacoustic bioimaging/detection, and phototherapy together with future challenges and implications in this field. We aim at providing an insightful design guideline and a clear overview of Aza-BODIPY dyes, which might entice new ideas and directions.