Green fluorescent terbium (III) complex doped silica nanoparticles

Elisabetta Fanizza, Nicoletta Depalo, Svetlana Fedorenko, Rosa Maria Iacobazzi, Alsu Mukhametshina, Rustem Zairov, Anastasio Salatino, Fabio Vischio, Annamaria Panniello, Valentino Laquintana, M. Lucia Curri, Asiya Mustafina, Nunzio Denora, Marinella Striccoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The low photostability of conventional organic dyes and the toxicity of cadmium-based luminescent quantum dots have prompted the development of novel probes for in vitro and in vivo labelling. Here, a new fluorescent lanthanide probe based on silica nanoparticles is fabricated and investigated for optically traceable in vitro translocator protein (TSPO) targeting. The targeting and detection of TSPO receptor, overexpressed in several pathological states, including neurodegenerative diseases and cancers, may provide valuable information for the early diagnosis and therapy of human disorders. Green fluorescent terbium(III)-calix[4]arene derivative complexes are encapsulated within silica nanoparticles and surface functionalized amine groups are conjugated with selective TSPO ligands based on a 2-phenylimidazo[1,2-a]pyridine acetamide structure containing derivatizable carboxylic groups. The photophysical properties of the terbium complex, promising for biological labelling, are demonstrated to be successfully conveyed to the realized nanoarchitectures. In addition, the high degree of biocompatibility, assessed by cell viability assay and the selectivity towards TSPO mitochondrial membrane receptors, proven by subcellular fractional studies, highlight targeting potential of this nanostructure for in vitro labelling of mitochondria.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberE3139
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2019


  • Lanthanide complex probes
  • Nanoparticle-based fluorescent targeting
  • TSPO ligand

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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