A Near-Infrared Fluorescent Probe for Monitoring Butyrylcholinesterase Activity and Detecting Pesticide Residue is Developed

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Researchers have developed a near-infrared fluorescent probe that allows for highly sensitive detection of butyrylcholinesterase activity and pesticide residue in food samples. The probe offers a ratiometric pattern and shows promise for applications in health evaluation, disease diagnosis, and environmental monitoring.

Researchers from the Universities of Shandong and Qingdao University of Science and Technology in China have made a breakthrough in the field of biosensing with the development of a near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent probe. The probe offers a highly sensitive and selective method for monitoring the activity of butyrylcholinesterase (BChE), a critical esterase synthesized by the liver. Additionally, the probe demonstrates remarkable capabilities in detecting pesticide residue in food samples. The study was published in the journal Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy (1).

A ratiometric near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent probe refers to a type of molecular sensor that utilizes two different emission wavelengths within the NIR or visible range. It is designed to undergo a fluorescence change at these specific wavelengths in response to a target molecule or analyte. By measuring the ratio of the emitted fluorescence at these two wavelengths, the probe provides a more reliable and accurate detection method, minimizing the effects of background noise and variations in experimental conditions. This ratiometric approach enhances the sensitivity and selectivity of the probe, making it a valuable tool for various applications, including bioimaging, disease diagnostics, and environmental monitoring.

Monitoring BChE activity is essential for evaluating overall health, but it poses challenges in complex biological systems. To address this, the researchers designed a novel NIR fluorescent probe that utilizes a cyanine backbone. By harnessing intrinsic NIR fluorescence and circumventing interference from bioluminescence, the probe enables precise and reliable detection of BChE activity. The researchers observed a fascinating structural transformation during the sensing event, which caused a striking fluorescence change from the NIR region, measured at 816 nm, to the red region, measured at 637 nm. This ratiometric assay provides an innovative approach for monitoring BChE activity with high accuracy and sensitivity.

The researchers conducted comprehensive investigations to assess the probe's performance in various bio-areas, including the cellular level and slice platform. The results demonstrated that the developed receptor exhibited a ratiometric pattern and could be successfully applied in diverse biological settings. Notably, the probe's versatility extends beyond BChE activity monitoring. It was found to possess the ability to detect pesticide dichlorvos (DDVP) residue in food samples with exceptional sensitivity and accuracy. This discovery suggests that the NIR fluorescent probe has the potential to serve as a viable candidate for monitoring environmental pollution caused by pesticide residues.


The implications of this development are far-reaching. The accurate monitoring of BChE activity provides valuable insights into numerous diseases, potentially facilitating convenient and reliable diagnoses. Moreover, the probe's capability to detect pesticide residue in food samples addresses growing concerns about food safety and environmental pollution. By offering a highly sensitive and selective tool, this research opens new avenues for biosensing applications and paves the way for improved health evaluation and environmental monitoring.

Further research and development will focus on optimizing the probe's performance and exploring its potential applications in clinical diagnosis and environmental surveillance. The work of these Chinese researchers contributes to the advancement of molecular spectroscopy and showcases the power of near-infrared ratiometric fluorescent strategies in the detection of BChE activity and pesticide residue in various samples.


(1) Yuan, W.; Wan, C.; Zhang, J.; Li, Q.; Zhang, P.; Zheng, K.; Zhang, Q.; Ding, C. Near-infrared ratiometric fluorescent strategy for butyrylcholinesterase activity and its application in the detection of pesticide residue in food samples and biological imaging. Spectrochim. Acta A Mol. Biomol. Spectrosc. 2023, 297, 122719. DOI: