Visualizing Semipermeability of Cell Membrane by a pH-responsive Ratiometric AIEgen

20 April 2020, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


In clinical chemotherapy, some basic drugs cannot enter the hydrophobic cell membrane because of ionization in acidic tumor microenvironment, a phenomenon known as ion trapping. In this study, we developed a method to visualize this ion trapping phenomenon by utilizing a pH-responsive ratiometric AIEgen, dihydro berberine (dhBBR). By observing the intracellular fluorescence of dhBBR, we found that non-ionized dhBBR can enter cells easier than ionized forms, which is in accordance with the concept of ion trapping. In addition, dhBBR shows superior anti-photobleaching ability than Curcumin thanks to its AIE property. These results suggest that dhBBR can serve as a bioprobe for ion trapping.


dihydro berberine
ion trapping
Cell Membrane
pH probe
Aggregation-Induced Emission

Supplementary materials

Supporting Information


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