NIR nanoprobe-facilitated cross-referencing manifestation of local disease biology for dynamic therapeutic response assessment†
Pharmacological interventions for effective treatment require opportune, dynamic and accurate manifestation of pathological status. Traditional clinical techniques relying on biopsy-based histological examinations and blood tests are dramatically restricted due to their invasiveness, unsatisfactory precision, non-real-time reporting and risk of complications. Although current strategies through molecular imaging enable non-invasive and spatiotemporal mapping of pathological changes in intact organisms, environment-activatable, sensitive and quantitative sensing platforms, especially for dynamic feedback of the therapeutic response, are still urgently desired in practice. Herein, we innovatively integrate deep-tissue penetrable multispectral optoacoustic tomography (MSOT) and near-infrared (NIR) optical imaging based technology by tailoring a free radical-responsive chromophore with photon-upconverting nanocrystals. During the therapeutic process, the specific reactions between the drug-stimulated reactive oxygen species (ROS) and radical-sensitive probes result in an absorption shift, which can be captured by MSOT. Meanwhile, the radical-triggered reaction also induces multispectral upconversion luminescence (UCL) responses that exhibit the opposite trend in comparison to MSOT. Such reversed-ratiometric dual-modal imaging outcomes provide an ideal cross-referencing system that guarantees the maximum sensing specificity and sensitivity, thus enabling precise disease biology evaluation and treatment assessments in vivo.