Nano-Micro Letters

Visualizing Photodynamic Therapy in Transgenic Zebrafish Using Organic Nanoparticles with Aggregation-Induced Emission

Purnima Naresh Manghnani1, Wenbo Wu1, Shidang Xu1, Fang Hu1, Cathleen Teh2, Bin Liu1, *

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Nano-Micro Lett. (2018) 10: 61

First Online: 26 January 2018 (Communication)


*Corresponding author. E-mail:





Photodynamic therapy (PDT) employs accumulation of photosensitizers (PSs) in malignant tumor tissue followed by light induced generation of cytotoxic reactive oxygen species (ROS) to kill the tumor cells. The success of PDT depends on optimal PS dosage that is matched with the ideal power of light. This in turn depends on PS accumulation in target tissue and light administration time and period. As theranostic nanomedicine is driven by multifunctional therapeutics that aim to achieve targeted tissue delivery and image-guided therapy, fluorescent PS nanoparticle (NP) accumulation in target tissues can be ascertained through fluorescence imaging to optimize the light dose and administration parameters. In this regard, zebrafish larvae provide a unique transparent in vivo platform to monitor fluorescent PS bio-distribution and their therapeutic efficiency. Using fluorescent PS NPs with unique aggregation-induced emission (AIE) characteristics, we demonstrate for the first time the real-time visualization of polymeric NP accumulation in tumor tissue and more importantly, the best time to conduct photodynamic therapy using transgenic zebrafish larvae with inducible liver hyperplasia as an example.



Nanomedicine; Photodynamic therapy; Transgenic zebrafish; Aggregation-induced emission; Organic nanoparticles

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