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Chemistry In Pictures

Chemistry in Pictures: Fatal fluorescence

by Brianna Barbu
August 16, 2022

Credit: Sourav Sarkar

Sourav Sarkar made the fluorophore providing the magenta glow seen in this video to study lipid reservoirs in living cells. Initially, the experiment appeared to work as it was supposed to, says Sarkar, a research assistant professor at Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea. The cells’ lipids showed up brightly under the microscope. But within a few minutes, the cells expanded and became misshapen, a sure sign that the fluorophore was damaging them. Soon, the cells were dead.

The light used for exciting fluorescence in some fluorophores also causes them to react with oxygen and generate cell-damaging radicals. This is known as phototoxicity. Not all fluorophores are phototoxic, but it occurs most often with synthetic dyes.

Submitted by Sourav Sarkar

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