Multiplexed imaging detection of live cell intracellular changes in early apoptosis with aggregation-induced emission fluorogens

Yabin Zhou, Haixiang Liu, Na Zhao, Zhiming Wang, Michael Michael, Leo Ni Xie, Ben Tang, Youhong Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Apoptosis is an important process for maintaining tissue homeostasis and eliminating abnormal cells in multicellular organisms. Abnormality in apoptosis often leads to severe diseases such as cancers. Better understanding of its mechanisms and processes is therefore important. Accompanying molecular biology events of apoptosis is a series of cellular morphology changes: nucleus condensation, cell shrinkage and rounding, cell surface blebbing, dynamic blebbing, apoptotic membrane protrusions and nucleus fragmentations and finally, the formation and release of apoptotic bodies. It is difficult to detect cellular changes in the early phase of apoptosis due to the subtle changes at this phase. In the current study, we induced apoptosis in HeLa cells with H2O2 and used nuclear dye Hoechst 33258, mitochondria, lysosome and cytoplasmic protein specific aggregation-induced emission fluorogens (AIEgens), TPE-Ph-In, 2M-DABS and BSPOTPE to successfully perform live cell multiplexed imaging to investigate early apoptosis cellular events. We showed the gradual dissipation of mitochondria membrane potential until it is nondetectable by TPE-Ph-In. Increased mitophagy detected by TPE-Ph-In and 2M-DABS, condensed nucleus detected by Hoechst 33258, increased permeability and/or reduced integrity of nuclear membrane, and increased intracellular vesicles detected by 2M-DABS are some of the early events of apoptosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)892-897
Number of pages6
JournalScience China Chemistry
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • aggregation-induced emission fluorogens (AIEgens)
  • apoptosis
  • HeLa
  • multiplexed imaging


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