Drug-induced liver injury (DILI) is a frequent cause of hepatic dysfunction as well as the single most frequent reason for removing approved medications from the market, and multispectral optoacoustic tomography (MSOT) is an emerging and noninvasive imaging modality for diagnosing and monitoring diseases. Herein, we report an activatable optoacoustic probe for imaging DILI through detecting the activity of leucine aminopeptidase (LAP). In this probe, an N-terminal leucyl moiety serving as the LAP recognition element is linked with a chromene-benzoindolium chromophore via 4-aminobenzylalcohol group. The elevated expression of hepatic LAP as a result of DILI cleaves the leucyl moiety and causes the red-shift of the probe’s absorption band, thereby generating prominent optoacoustic signals for MSOT imaging. During this process, the probe also exhibits prominent NIR fluorescence, which can be utilized for fluorescent imaging. More importantly, by rendering stacks of cross-sectional images as maximal intensity projection (MIP) images, we could precisely locate the focus of drug-induced liver injury in mice. This probe is expected to serve a powerful tool for studying physiological and pathological processes related to LAP.

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