Time-resolved long-lived luminescence imaging method employing luminescent lanthanide probes with a new microscopy system

Kenjiro Hanaoka, Kazuya Kikuchi, Shigeru Kobayashi, Tetsuo Nagano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

238 Citations (Scopus)


Superior fluorescence imaging methods are needed for detailed studies on biological phenomena, and one approach that permits precise analyses is time-resolved fluorescence measurement, which offers a high signal-to-noise ratio. Herein, we describe a new fluorescence imaging system to visualize biomolecules within living biological samples by means of time-resolved, long-lived luminescence microscopy (TRLLM). In TRLLM, short-lived background fluorescence and scattered light are gated out, allowing the long-lived luminescence to be selectively imaged. Usual time-resolved fluorescence microscopy provides fluorescence images with nanosecond resolution and has been used to image interactions between proteins, protein phosphorylation, the local pH, the refractive index, ion or oxygen concentrations, etc. Luminescent lanthanide complexes (especially europium and terbium trivalent ions (Eu 3+ and Tb3+)), in contrast, have long luminescence lifetimes on the order of milliseconds. We have designed and synthesized new luminescent Eu3+ complexes for TRLLM and also developed a new TRLLM system using a conventional fluorescence microscope with an image intensifier unit for gated signal acquisition and a xenon flash lamp as the excitation source. When the newly developed luminescent Eu3+ complexes were applied to living cells, clear fluorescence images were acquired with the TRLLM system, and short-lived fluorescence was completely excluded. By using Eu 3+ and Tb3+ luminescent complexes in combination, time-resolved dual-color imaging was also possible. Furthermore, we monitored changes of intracellular ionic zinc (Zn2+) concentration by using a Zn2+-selective luminescent Eu3+ chemosensor, [Eu-7]. This new imaging technique should facilitate investigations of biological functions with fluorescence microscopy, complementing other fluorescence imaging methodologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13502-13509
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number44
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Nov 7
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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