Herein, we report a protein-based hybridization strategy that exploits the host-guest chemistry of HSA (human serum albumin) to solubilize the otherwise cell impermeable ONOO- fluorescent probe Pinkment-OAc. Formation of a HSA/Pinkment-OAc supramolecular hybrid was confirmed by SAXS and solution-state analyses. This HSA/Pinkment-OAc hybrid provided an enhanced fluorescence response towards ONOO-versusPinkment-OAc alone, as determined by in vitro experiments. The HSA/Pinkment-OAc hybrid was also evaluated in RAW 264.7 macrophages and HeLa cancer cell lines, which displayed an enhanced cell permeability enabling the detection of SIN-1 and LPS generated ONOO- and the in vivo imaging of acute inflammation in LPS-treated mice. A remarkable 5.6 fold (RAW 264.7), 8.7-fold (HeLa) and 2.7-fold increased response was seen relative to Pinkment-OAc alone at the cellular level and in vivo, respectively. We anticipate that HSA/fluorescent probe hybrids will soon become ubiquitous and routinely applied to overcome solubility issues associated with hydrophobic fluorescent imaging agents designed to detect disease related biomarkers.
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