A new dual hepatocyte-targeting fluorescent probe HPL-1, which can precisely distinguish tumorous pH from physiological pH, was developed. The OFF-ON switch of HPL-1 can be triggered via pH-induced structural change of the lactam group of the rhodamine moiety from closed-ring to open-ring. Our results showed that the phosphate group of HPL-1 is beneficial to its accumulation in liver cells, and combination of the phosphate and galactose units could synergistically increase the hepatocyte-targeting capacity. HPL-1 could selectively distinguish hepatoma cells from other tissue cells, and precisely distinguish cancerous liver cells from normal liver cells. Compared with other reported probes, HPL-1 not only enable a simple and convenient detection method, but also has good hepatocyte-targeting capacity and precise recognition capacity of tumors under weak acid micro-environment, which opens new avenues for precise diagnosis and treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma.
- Fluorescent probe
- Tumorous pH