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Fluorescence-guided diagnostics is one of the most promising approaches for facile detection of cancer in situ. Here we focus on β-galactosidase, which is overexpressed in primary ovarian cancers, as a molecular target for visualizing peritoneal metastases from ovarian cancers. As existing fluorescence probes are unsuitable, we have designed membrane-permeable HMRef-βGal, in which the optimized intramolecular spirocyclic function affords >1, 400-fold fluorescence enhancement on activation. We confirm that HMRef-βGal sensitively detects intracellular β-galactosidase activity in several ovarian cancer lines. In vivo, this probe visualizes metastases as small as <1 mm in diameter in seven mouse models of disseminated human peritoneal ovarian cancer (SHIN3, SKOV3, OVK18, OVCAR3, OVCAR4, OVCAR5 and OVCAR8). Because of its high brightness, real-time detection of metastases with the naked eye is possible. Endoscopic fluorescence detection of metastases is also demonstrated. The results clearly indicate preclinical potential value of the probe for fluorescence-guided diagnosis of peritoneal metastases from ovarian cancers.


  • Nature Communications

    Nature Communications (6), 2015-01-01

    Nature Publishing Group


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