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© Nakamura et al. Near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent probes are ideal for in vivo imaging, because they offer deeper tissue penetration by the light and lower background autofluorescence than fluorophores that emit in the visible range. Q3STCy is a newly synthesized, NIR light-emitting probe that is activated by an enzyme commonly overexpressed in tumor cells, human nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (phosphate): quinone oxidoreductase isozyme 1, known as hNQO1 or DT-diaphorase. The purpose of this study is to compare the sensitivity of detecting peritoneal ovarian cancer metastasis (POCM) with Q3STCy and gGlu-HMRG, a green fluorescent probe, upon their surface application. In vitro uptake of Q3STCy was significantly higher than that of gGlu-HMRG. Using a red fluorescence protein (RFP)-labeled in vivo tumor model of POCM, the Q3STCy probe provided high sensitivity (96.9%) but modest specificity (61.0%), most likely the result of albumin-probe interactions and non-specific activation in nearby altered but healthy cells. Three types of kinetic maps based on maximum fluorescence signal (MF), wash-in rate (WIR), and area under the curve (AUC) allowed for differentiation of the activated fluorescence signal associated with POCM from the background signal of the small intestine, thereby significantly improving the specificity of Q3STCy to 80%, 100%, and 100% for MF, WIR, and AUC, as well yielding a moderate improvement in sensitivity (100% for all approaches) that is comparable to that with gGlu-HMRG, but with the added advantages of NIR fluorescence as the transduction modality. Such a new methodology has the potential to afford identification of cancerous lesions deeper within tissue.

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