Fluorescent pH-indicators

Fluorescent dyes have the ability of changing color in response to pH-changes. This can be utilized for measuring pH in living cells. Changes in cellular pH can reflect a range of physiological processes, including  muscle contraction, endocytosis, cell proliferation, apoptosis, and ion transport 1.

Fluorescent pH-indicators can be either stand-alone-dyes or dyes coupled to a macromolecule, such as dextran. The advantage of using fluorescent dextran derivatives is that the molecules can be accumulated in to specific intracellular compartments2. Compared to microelectrode techniques, fluorescent pH-indicators also have greater spatial sampling capability1. Another advantage of the probes and indicators is that they don’t bind to cellular proteins2.

The use of dextran derivatives involving dye-entities like FITC, TRITC or Texas Red™ have in recent years been reported in the field of pH-indicators3. These dyes can be combined in a single dextran in order to achieve more accurate results. In such cases the different pH-responses of FITC and TRITC (or Texas Red™) are employed for a more accurate readout.



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  1. Han, J. & Burgess, K. Fluorescent indicators for intracellular pH. Chem. Rev. 110, 2709–2728 (2010).
  2. Takahashi, S. et al. Development of a Series of Practical Fluorescent Chemical Tools To Measure pH Values in Living Samples. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 140, 5925–5933 (2018).
  3. Weigert, R. (Ed.) Advances in Intravital Microscopy From Basic to Clinical Research. Springer Science. ISBN 978-94-017-9360-5. DOI 10.1007/978-94-017-9361-2. Heidelberg (2014).






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