Theranostics 2017; 7(8):2305-2313. doi:10.7150/thno.19554 This issue

Research Paper

A Fluorogenic Probe for Ultrafast and Reversible Detection of Formaldehyde in Neurovascular Tissues

Xing-Guang Liang1, 3*, Bo Chen2*, Ling-Xiao Shao1, Juan Cheng1, Ming-Zhu Huang3, Yu Chen3, Yong-Zhou Hu1, Yi-Feng Han2, Feng Han1✉, Xin Li1✉

1. College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, China;
2. Department of Chemistry, Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, Hangzhou 310018, China;
3. Central Laboratory, First Affiliated Hospital, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310003, China.
* These authors contributed equally to this work.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) license ( See for full terms and conditions.
Liang XG, Chen B, Shao LX, Cheng J, Huang MZ, Chen Y, Hu YZ, Han YF, Han F, Li X. A Fluorogenic Probe for Ultrafast and Reversible Detection of Formaldehyde in Neurovascular Tissues. Theranostics 2017; 7(8):2305-2313. doi:10.7150/thno.19554. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Formaldehyde (FA) is endogenously produced in live systems and has been implicated in a diverse array of pathophysiological processes. To disentangle the detailed molecular mechanisms of FA biology, a reliable method for monitoring FA changes in live cells would be indispensable. Although there have been several fluorescent probes reported to detect FA, most are limited by the slow detection kinetics and the intrinsic disadvantage of detecting FA in an irreversible manner which may disturb endogenous FA homeostasis. Herein we developed a coumarin-hydrazonate based fluorogenic probe (PFM) based on a finely-tailored stereoelectronic effect. PFM could respond to FA swiftly and reversibly. This, together with its desirable specificity and sensitivity, endows us to track endogenous FA in live neurovascular cells with excellent temporal and spatial resolution. Further study in the brain tissue imaging showed the first direct observation of aberrant FA accumulation in cortex and hippocampus of Alzheimer's mouse model, indicating the potential of PFM as a diagnostic tool.

Keywords: fluorescent probe, formaldehyde, neurodegenerative disorder, neurovascular cell.