Self-Assembled Fluorescent Bovine Serum Albumin Nanoprobes for Ratiometric pH Measurement inside Living Cells

Qiaoyu Yang, Zhongju Ye, Meile Zhong, Bo Chen, Jian Chen, Rongjin Zeng, Lin Wei*, Hung Wing Li*, Lehui Xiao*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


In this work, we demonstrated a new ratiometric method for the quantitative analysis of pH inside living cells. The structure of the nanosensor comprises a biofriendly fluorescent bovine serum albumin (BSA) matrix, acting as a pH probe, and pH-insensitive reference dye Alexa 594 enabling ratiometric quantitative pH measurement. The fluorescent BSA matrix was synthesized by cross-linking of the denatured BSA proteins in ethanol with glutaraldehyde. The size of the as-synthesized BSA nanoparticles can be readily manipulated from 30 to 90 nm, which exhibit decent fluorescence at the peak wavelength of 535 nm with a pH response range of 6-8. The potential of this pH sensor for intracellular pH monitoring was demonstrated inside living HeLa cells, whereby a significant change in fluorescence ratio was observed when the pH of the cell was switched from normal to acidic with anticancer drug treatment. The fast response of the nanosensor makes it a very powerful tool in monitoring the processes occurring within the cytosol. (Graph Presented).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9629-9634
Number of pages6
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2016

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Materials Science(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • cellular imaging
  • fluorescent nanoparticles
  • pH sensing
  • protein nanoparticles
  • ratiometric


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