Fluorescent Polymer-Single-Walled Carbon Nanotube Complexes with Charged and Noncharged Dendronized Perylene Bisimides for Bioimaging Studies
K. Huth, M. Glaeske, K. Achazi, G. Gordeev, S. Kumar, R. Arenal, S. K. Sharma, M. Adeli, A. Setaro*, S. Reich, R. Haag* – 2018
Fluorescent nanomaterials are expected to revolutionize medical diagnostic, imaging, and therapeutic tools due to their superior optical and structural properties. Their inefficient water solubility, cell permeability, biodistribution, and high toxicity, however, limit the full potential of their application. To overcome these obstacles, a water‐soluble, fluorescent, cytocompatible polymer—single‐walled carbon nanotube (SWNT) complex is introduced for bioimaging applications. The supramolecular complex consists of an alkylated polymer conjugated with neutral hydroxylated or charged sulfated dendronized perylene bisimides (PBIs) and SWNTs as a general immobilization platform. The polymer backbone solubilizes the SWNTs, decorates them with fluorescent PBIs, and strongly improves their cytocompatibility by wrapping around the SWNT scaffold. In photophysical measurements and biological in vitro studies, sulfated complexes exhibit superior optical properties, cellular uptake, and intracellular staining over their hydroxylated analogs. A toxicity assay confirms the highly improved cytocompatibility of the polymer‐wrapped SWNTs toward surfactant‐solubilized SWNTs. In microscopy studies the complexes allow for the direct imaging of the SWNTs' cellular uptake via the PBI and SWNT emission using the 1st and 2nd optical window for bioimaging. These findings render the polymer‐SWNT complexes with nanometer size, dual fluorescence, multiple charges, and high cytocompatibility as valuable systems for a broad range of fluorescence bioimaging studies.