Aberrant brown adipose tissue (BAT) metabolism is linked to obesity as well as other metabolic disorders. However, the paucity of imaging tools limits the study of in vivo BAT metabolism in animal models. The current work evaluated a heptamethine dye (CyHF-8) in living mice as a dual-modality BAT-avid molecular probe for two imaging approaches, including near-infrared fluorescence imaging (NIRF) and photoacoustic imaging (PAI). CyHF-8 exhibited favorable spectral properties in the near-infrared window (786/787/805 nm) and accumulated in the subcellular mitochondria of brown adipocytes. After intravenous injection of CyHF-8, NIRF and PAI were both capable of noninvasively detecting interscapular BAT at early time points in living mice. Quantitative analysis of NIRF and PAI images showed that CyHF-8 signals respond to dynamic BAT changes in mice stimulated by norepinephrine (NE) and in diabetic mice induced by streptozotocin (STZ). In summary, dual-modality NIRF/PAI probe CyHF-8 can be used for both NIRF and PAI to noninvasively assess BAT metabolism in living animals.

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