Ru(ii)/BODIPY core co-encapsulated ratiometric nanotools for intracellular O2 sensing in live cancer cells†
Oxygen is a crucial reagent in many biochemical processes within living cells and its concentration can be an effective marker in disease, particularly in cancer where tissue hypoxia has been shown to indicate tumour growth. Probes that can reflect the oxygen concentration and distribution using ratiometric signals can be applied to a range of conventional methods without the need for specialised equipment and are particularly useful. The preparation and in cellulo study of luminescent ratiometric core–shell nanoparticles are presented. Here, a new lipophilic and oxygen-responsive Ru(II) tris-heteroleptic polypyridyl complex is co-encapsulated with a reference BODIPY dye into the core of poly-L-lysine-coated polystyrene particles. The co-core encapsulation ensures oxygen response but reduces the impact of the environment on both probes. Single wavelength excitation of the particles, suspended in aqueous buffer, at 480 nm, triggers well-resolved dual emission from both dyes with peak maxima at 515 nm and 618 nm. A robust ratiometric oxygen response is observed from water, with a linear dynamic range of 3.6–262 μM which matches well with typical biological ranges. The uptake of RuBDP NPs was found to be cell-line dependent, but in cancerous cell lines, the particles were strongly permeable with late endosomal and partial lysosomal co-staining observed within 3 to 4 hours, eventually leading to extensive staining of the cytoplasm. The co-localisation of the ruthenium and BODIPY emission confirms that the particles remain intact in cellulo with no indication of dye leaching. The ratiometric O2 sensing response of the particles in cellulo was demonstrated using a plate-based assay and by confocal xyλ scanning of cells exposed to hypoxic conditions.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Analytical methods in chemical biology