Near-infrared fluorescent sensor for in vivo copper imaging in a murine Wilson disease model

Tasuku Hirayama, Genevieve C. Van De Bittner, Lawrence W. Gray, Svetlana Lutsenko, Christopher J. Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

143 Scopus citations


Copper is an essential metal nutrient that is tightly regulated in the body because loss of its homeostasis is connected to severe diseases such as Menkes and Wilson diseases, Alzheimer's disease, prion disorders, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The complex relationships between copper status and various stages of health and disease remain challenging to elucidate, in part due to a lack of methods for monitoring dynamic changes in copper pools in whole living organisms. Here we present the synthesis, spectroscopy, and in vivo imaging applications of Coppersensor 790, a first-generation fluorescent sensor for visualizing labile copper pools in living animals. Coppersensor 790 combines a near-infrared emitting cyanine dye with a sulfur-rich receptor to provide a selective and sensitive turn-on response to copper. This probe is capable of monitoring fluctuations in exchangeable copper stores in living cells and mice under basal conditions, as well as in situations of copper overload or deficiency. Moreover, we demonstrate the utility of this unique chemical tool to detect aberrant increases in labile copper levels in a murine model of Wilson disease, a genetic disorder that is characterized by accumulation of excess copper. The ability to monitor real-time copper fluxes in living animals offers potentially rich opportunities to examine copper physiology in health and disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2228-2233
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number7
StatePublished - Feb 14 2012


  • Diagnostic
  • Metal homeostasis
  • Molecular imaging
  • Near-infrared fluorophore

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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