Hepatocyte-targeting single galactose-appended naphthalimide: A tool for intracellular thiol imaging in vivo

Min Hee Lee, Ji Hye Han, Pil Seung Kwon, Sankarprasad Bhuniya, Jin Young Kim, Jonathan L. Sessler, Chulhun Kang, Jong Seung Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

382 Citations (Scopus)


We present the design, synthesis, spectroscopic properties, and biological evaluation of a single galactose-appended naphthalimide (1). Probe 1 is a multifunctional molecule that incorporates a thiol-specific cleavable disulfide bond, a masked phthalamide fluorophore, and a single galactose moiety as a hepatocyte-targeting unit. It constitutes a new type of targetable ligand for hepatic thiol imaging in living cells and animals. Confocal microscopic imaging experiments reveal that 1, but not the galactose-free control system 2, is preferentially taken up by HepG2 cells through galactose-targeted, ASGP-R-mediated endocytosis. Probe 1 displays a fluorescence emission feature at 540 nm that is induced by exposure to free endogenous thiols, most notably GSH. The liver-specificity of 1 was confirmed in vivo via use of a rat model. The potential utility of this probe in indicating pathogenic states and as a possible screening tool for agents that can manipulate oxidative stress was demonstrated in experiments wherein palmitate was used to induce lipotoxicity in HepG2 cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1316-1322
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jan 18

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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