NIR-fluorescing dye enables improved brain study

May 3, 2013
A team of French researchers have developed a dye that fluoresces in the near-infrared (NIR) and can pass through the skin, enabling brain study with unprecedented detail.

A team of researchers from the Laboratoire de Chimie at Claude Bernard University Lyon 1 (Lyon, France), the Institut des Neurosciences Grenoble (Grenoble, France), and the Interdisciplinary Chemistry: Synthesis, Analysis, Modeling (CEISAM) lab at the University of Nantes (Nantes, France) have developed a dye that fluoresces in the near-infrared (NIR) and can pass through the skin. The chromophore they synthesized, dubbed Lem-PHEA, opens up significant prospects for better observing the brain and understanding how it works.

Image of the cerebral vascular system of a mouse obtained by 3D two-photon microscopy with addition of Lem-PHEA. (Image courtesy of B. van der Sanden and F. Appaix, Institut des Neurosciences de Grenoble)

Related: New approach overcomes limitations of two-photon dual-color imaging

To obtain images of the vascular system of a mouse brain, it is necessary to use a fluorescent dye that combines NIR luminescence, solubility in biological media, low cost, non-toxicity, and utility for 3D two-photon microscopy. Lem-PHEA combines these properties; when injected into the blood vessels of a mouse, it reveals details of a rodent's vascular system with unprecedented detail, thanks to a considerably enhanced fluorescence compared to conventional dyes such as Rhodamine-B and cyanine derivatives. What's more, Lem-PHEA is easily eliminated by the kidneys.

Their work has been published online in the journal Chemical Science; for more information, please visit


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