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Near-Infrared Photoluminescent Carbon Nanotubes for Imaging of Brown Fat : Professor Kazuhiko Ishihara, Department of Materials Engineering, and other researchers.

Near-infrared photoluminescent single-walled carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are expected to provide effectual bio-imaging tools, although, as yet, only limited applications have been reported. Here, we report that CNTs coated with an amphiphilic and biocompatible polymer, poly(2-methacryloyloxyethyl phosphorylcholine-co-n-butyl methacrylate; PMB), generate high-quality images of brown fat. Brown fat is a heat-productive adipose tissue, which is attracting increasing attention as a new therapeutic target for obesity-associated metabolic disorders. Its brown colour is mainly attributed to densely packed capillaries, which facilitate its high heat-exchanging efficiency. Currently, positron emission tomography-computed tomography is the only practical technique to identify brown fat distribution in the living body; however, it is expensive to use. By virtue of their high affinity to apolipoproteins and exemption from macrophage phagocytosis, PMB-CNTs selectively accumulate on capillary endothelial cells but not larger vessels in adipose tissue. Therefore, the image brightness of adipose tissue can directly reflect the capillary density, and indirectly the thermogenic capability and brownness. PMB-CNTs provide clearer images than conventional organic dyes, as the high level of transmitted light passes through the body with less light scattering. Thus, PMB-CNT-based imaging methods could open a new phase in thermogenic adipose tissue research.


Scientific Reports :