Optoacoustic tomography (photoacoustic tomography) is an emerging imaging technology displaying great potential for medical diagnosis and preclinical research. Rationally designing activatable optoacoustic probes capable of diagnosing diseases and locating their foci can bring into full play the role of optoacoustic tomography (OAT) as a promising noninvasive imaging modality. Here we report two xanthene-based optoacoustic probes (C1X-OR1 and C2X-OR2) for temporospatial imaging of hepatic alkaline phosphatase (or β-galactosidase) for evaluating and locating drug-induced liver injury (or metastatic tumor). The probes rapidly respond to the disease-specific biomarkers by displaying red-shifted NIR absorption bands and generate prominent optoacoustic signals. Using multispectral optoacoustic tomography (MSOT), we can precisely localize the focus of drug-induced liver injury in mice using C1X-OR1, and the metastatic tumors using C2X-OR2. This work suggests that the activatable optoacoustic chromophores may potentially be applied for diagnosing and localizing disease foci, especially smaller and deeper ones.

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