Being the largest and most accessible organ of the human body, the skin could offer a window to diabetes-related complications on the microvasculature. However, skin microvasculature is typically assessed by histological analysis, which is not suited for applications to large populations or longitudinal studies. We introduce ultra-wideband raster-scan optoacoustic mesoscopy (RSOM) for precise, non-invasive assessment of diabetes-related changes in the dermal microvasculature and skin micro-anatomy, resolved with unprecedented sensitivity and detail without the need for contrast agents. Providing unique imaging contrast, we explored a possible role for RSOM as an investigational tool in diabetes healthcare and offer the first comprehensive study investigating the relationship between different diabetes complications and microvascular features in vivo. We applied RSOM to scan the pretibial area of 95 participants with diabetes mellitus and 48 age-matched volunteers without diabetes, grouped according to disease complications, and extracted six label-free optoacoustic biomarkers of human skin, including dermal microvasculature density and epidermal parameters, based on a novel image-processing pipeline. We then correlated these biomarkers to disease severity and found statistically significant effects on microvasculature parameters as a function of diabetes complications. We discuss how label-free RSOM biomarkers can lead to a quantitative assessment of the systemic effects of diabetes and its complications, complementing the qualitative assessment allowed by current clinical metrics, possibly leading to a precise scoring system that captures the gradual evolution of the disease.
Wang YY et al., Anal Chem. 2023 Sep 19;95(37):14025-14035.
Nanocatalytic therapy (NCT) has made great achievements in tumor treatments due to its remarkable enzyme-like activities and high specificity. Nevertheless, the limited types of nanozymes and undesirable tumor microenvironments (TME) greatly weaken the therapeutic efficiency. Developing a combination therapy integrating NCT and other strategies is of great significance for optimal treatment outcomes. Herein, a AuPt-loaded Cu-doped polydopamine nanocomposite (AuPt@Cu-PDA) with multiple enzyme-like activities was rationally designed, which integrated photothermal therapy (PTT) and NCT. The peroxidase (POD)-like activity of AuPt@Cu-PDA can catalyze hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) into ·OH, and the catalase (CAT)-mimic activity can decompose H2O2 into O2 to alleviate hypoxia of TME, and O2 can be further converted into toxic ·O2- by its oxidase (OXD)-mimic activity. In addition, Cu2+ in AuPt@Cu-PDA can effectively consume GSH overexpressed in tumor cells. The boosting of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and glutathione (GSH) depletion can lead to severe oxidative stress, which can be enhanced by its excellent photothermal performance. Most importantly, the accumulation of Cu2+ can disrupt copper homeostasis, promote the aggregation of lipoylated dihydrolipoamide S-acetyltransferase (DLAT), disrupt the mitochondrial tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, and finally result in cuproptosis. Collectively, photothermal and photoacoustic imaging (PTI/PAI)-guided cuproptosis-enhanced NCT/PTT can be achieved. This work may expand the application of nanozymes in synergistic therapy and provide new insights into cuproptosis-related therapeutic strategies.
A novel biodegradable layered double hydroxide-copper selenide nanocomplex was prepared by anchoring copper selenide on manganese iron layered double hydroxide nanosheets. This nanocomplex can specifically release CuSe, Mn2+ and Fe3+ in the tumor microenvironment, which implements NIR-II photoacoustic imaging-guided synergistic cancer therapy under 1064 nm laser irradiation.
Zhao Y et al., Anal Chem. 2023 Sep 19;95(37):14043-14051
Glutathione (GSH), the most abundant nonprotein biothiol, is a significant endogenous molecule that plays a key role in redox equilibrium in vivo and is regarded as a critical biomarker of cancer. Currently, various fluorescent probes have been designed and synthesized for imaging GSH at the cellular level in the visible range and the first near-infrared window (NIR-I, 750-900 nm). However, the application of these fluorescent probes for bioimaging and biosensing in vivo has been extremely hindered by the high biobackground and low tissue penetration. Herein, based on the self-assembly and disassembly of J-aggregation, we designed and synthesized a GSH-activatable probe MC-PSE for second near-infrared window (NIR-II) fluorescence and ratiometric photoacoustic imaging of GSH in vivo. The anionic cyanine-based MC-PSE tends to form stable J-aggregates in an aqueous solution. Upon the reaction with GSH, the J-aggregates of MC-PSE disassembled, the emission peak intensity of MC-PSE at 940 nm significantly increased by about 20 times, and the PA900/PA980 ratio increased by 4 times within 15 min in vitro. Notably, we used MC-PSE to visualize GSH in tumor-bearing mice and to distinguish normal and tumor areas successfully by virtue of NIR-II FL and PA dual-modal imaging. The design strategy of MC-PSE provides a novel method for ratiometric photoacoustic imaging, and MC-PSE is expected to be a powerful tool for the accurate detection of GSH in cancer diagnosis.
Yang CW et al., ACS Appl Nano Mater. 2022 Dec 23;5(12):18912-18920.
Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer-associated deaths among women. Techniques for non-invasive breast cancer detection and imaging are urgently needed. Multimodality breast cancer imaging is attractive since it can integrate advantages from several modalities, enabling more accurate cancer detection. In order to accomplish this, indocyanine green (ICG)-conjugated superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoworm (NW-ICG) has been synthesized as a contrast agent. When evaluated in a spontaneous mouse breast cancer model, NW-ICG gave a large tumor to normal tissue contrasts in multiple imaging modalities including magnetic particle imaging, near-infrared fluorescence imaging, and photoacoustic imaging, providing more comprehensive detection and imaging of breast cancer. Thus, NW-ICGs are an attractive platform for non-invasive breast cancer diagnosis.
Chen H et al., Chem Commun (Camb). 2023 Aug 29;59(70):10520-10523.
Carboxylesterase (CE) is crucial in metabolizing ester-containing biomolecules and is particularly significant in liver metabolic diseases. Herein, we present the first activatable NIRF/PA dual-mode imaging probe QHD-CE for detection of CE in vitro and in vivo. QHD-CE displays excellent sensitivity and selectivity for CE with a high reaction efficiency (∼90 min). By utilizing QHD-CE, the dynamic changes of CE in drug-induced liver injury and diabetic mice models were monitored.
Wang M et al., Acta Biomater. 2023 Sep 15:168:606-616.
The misdiagnosis of tumors due to insufficient penetration depth or signal interference and damage to normal tissues due to indiscriminate treatment are the biggest challenges in using photothermal agents for clinical translation. To overcome these limitations, a strategy of switching from the near-infrared (NIR)-I region to the NIR-II region was developed based on tumor microenvironment (TME)-mediated gold (Au) self-assembly. Using zeolitic imidazolate framework-8 (ZIF-8) metal-organic framework-coated gold nanorods (AuNRs@ZIF-8) as a model photothermal agent, we demonstrated that only a NIR-I photoacoustic imaging signal was observed in normal tissue because ZIF-8 could prevent the aggregation of AuNRs. However, when ZIF-8 dissociated in the TME, the AuNRs aggregated to activate NIR-II photoacoustic imaging and attenuate the NIR-I signal, thereby allowing an accurate diagnosis of tumors based on signal transformation. Notably, TME-activated NIR-II photothermal therapy could also inhibit tumor growth. Therefore, this TME-activated NIR-I-to-NIR-II switching strategy could improve the accuracy of deep-tumor diagnoses and avoid the injury caused by undifferentiated treatment. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: Photothermal agents used for photoacoustic imaging and photothermal therapy have garnered great attention for tumor theranostics. However, always “turned on” near-infrared (NIR)-I laser (700-1000 nm)-responsive photothermal agents face issues of penetration depth and damage to normal tissues. In contrast, tumor microenvironment-activated NIR-II “smart” photothermal agents exhibit deeper penetration depth and tumor selectivity. Therefore, a NIR-I-to-NIR-II switching strategy was developed based on tumor microenvironment-mediated Au self-assembly. This work provides a new strategy for developing tumor microenvironment-activated NIR-II smart photothermal agents.
Rix T et al., Sensors (Basel). 2023 Aug 10;23(16):7085.
Photoacoustic imaging potentially allows for the real-time visualization of functional human tissue parameters such as oxygenation but is subject to a challenging underlying quantification problem. While in silico studies have revealed the great potential of deep learning (DL) methodology in solving this problem, the inherent lack of an efficient gold standard method for model training and validation remains a grand challenge. This work investigates whether DL can be leveraged to accurately and efficiently simulate photon propagation in biological tissue, enabling photoacoustic image synthesis. Our approach is based on estimating the initial pressure distribution of the photoacoustic waves from the underlying optical properties using a back-propagatable neural network trained on synthetic data. In proof-of-concept studies, we validated the performance of two complementary neural network architectures, namely a conventional U-Net-like model and a Fourier Neural Operator (FNO) network. Our in silico validation on multispectral human forearm images shows that DL methods can speed up image generation by a factor of 100 when compared to Monte Carlo simulations with 5×108 photons. While the FNO is slightly more accurate than the U-Net, when compared to Monte Carlo simulations performed with a reduced number of photons (5×106), both neural network architectures achieve equivalent accuracy. In contrast to Monte Carlo simulations, the proposed DL models can be used as inherently differentiable surrogate models in the photoacoustic image synthesis pipeline, allowing for back-propagation of the synthesis error and gradient-based optimization over the entire pipeline. Due to their efficiency, they have the potential to enable large-scale training data generation that can expedite the clinical application of photoacoustic imaging.
Wang H et al., Adv Healthc Mater. 2023 Aug 23;e2301435.