Harnessing α-l-fucosidase for in vivo cellular senescence imaging†
Precise detection of cellular senescence may allow its role in biological systems to be evaluated more effectively, while supporting studies of therapeutic candidates designed to evade its detrimental effect on physical function. We report here studies of α-L-fucosidase (α-fuc) as a biomarker for cellular senescence and the development of an α-fuc-responsive aggregation induced emission (AIE) probe, termed QM-NHαfuc designed to complement more conventional probes based on β-galactosidase (β-gal). Using QM-NHαfuc, the onset of replicative-, reactive oxygen species (ROS)-, ultraviolet A (UVA)-, and drug-induced senescence could be probed effectively. QM-NHαfuc also proved capable of identifying senescent cells lacking β-gal expression. The non-invasive real-time senescence tracking provided by QM-NHαfuc was validated in an in vivo senescence model. The results presented in this study lead us to suggest that the QM-NHαfuc could emerge as a useful tool for investigating senescence processes in biological systems.