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Intracellular pH-Sensing Using Core/Shell Silica Nanoparticles

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An in-depth understanding of biochemical processes occurring within biological systems is key for early diagnosis of disease and identification of appropriate treatments. Nanobiophotonics offers huge potential benefits for intracellular diagnostics and therapeutics. Intracellular sensing using fluorescent nanoparticles is a potentially useful tool for real-time, in vivo monitoring of important cellular analytes. This work is focused on synthesis of optical chemical nanosensors for the quantitative analysis of pH inside living cells. The structure of the nanosensor comprises a biofriendly silica matrix with co-encapsulated Texas Red, acting as a reference dye, and pH-sensitive fluorescein isothiocyanate enabling ratiometric quantitative environmental detection. In order to obtain silica-based nanoparticles ∼70 nm in size, a modified sol–gel-based Stöber method was employed. The potential of these nanosensors for intracellular pH monitoring is demonstrated inside a live human embryonic kidney cell line whereby a significant change in fluorescence is observed when the cell pH is switched from acidic to basic. High loading efficiencies of nanoparticles into the cells is seen, with little effect on cell morphology even following extended nanoparticle exposure (up to 72 h). Nanoparticle incubation time and the fast response of the nanosensor (∼2 s) make it a very powerful tool in monitoring the processes occurring within the cytosol.
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Keywords: INTRACELLULAR PH; MODIFIED STÖBER SYNTHESIS; OPTICAL CHEMICAL NANOSENSORS; RATIOMETRIC MEASUREMENTS; SILICA NANOPARTICLES

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2014

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  • Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology (JBN) is a peer-reviewed multidisciplinary journal providing broad coverage in all research areas focused on the applications of nanotechnology in medicine, drug delivery systems, infectious disease, biomedical sciences, biotechnology, and all other related fields of life sciences.
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