Cancer cell discrimination and dynamic viability monitoring through wash-free bioimaging using AIEgens†
Cancer cell discrimination and cellular viability monitoring are closely related to human health. A universal and convenient fluorescence system with a dual function of wide-spectrum cancer cell discrimination and dynamic cellular viability monitoring is desperately needed, and is still extremely challenging. Herein we present a series of aggregation-induced emission luminogens (AIEgens) (denoted as IVP) which can allow accurate discrimination between cancer and normal cells and dynamic monitoring of cellular viability through mitochondria–nucleolus migration. By regulating the lengths and positions of alkyl chains in IVP molecules, we systematically studied the discrimination behavior of these AIEgens between cancer cells and normal cells and further investigated how they can migrate between the mitochondria and nucleolus based on the change of mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm). Using IVP-02 as a model molecule, wash-free bioimaging, excellent two-photon properties, and low cytotoxicity were demonstrated. This present work proves that these designed IVP AIEgens show great potential for cancer identification and metastasis monitoring, as well as activity evaluation and screening of drugs.