Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are increasingly being implicated in the regulation of cellular signaling cascades. Intracellular ROS fluxes are associated with cellular function ranging from proliferation to cell death. Moreover, the importance of subtle, spatio-temporal shifts in ROS during localized cellular signaling events is being realized. Understanding the biochemical nature of the ROS involved will enhance our knowledge of redox-signaling. An ideal intracellular sensor should therefore resolve real-time, localized ROS changes, be highly sensitive to physiologically relevant shifts in ROS and provide specificity towards a particular molecule. For in vivo applications issues such as bioavailability of the probe, tissue penetrance of the signal and signal-to-noise ratio also need to be considered. In the past researchers have heavily relied on the use of ROS-sensitive fluorescent probes and, more recently, genetically engineered ROS sensors. However, there is a great need to improve on current methods to address the above issues. Recently, the field of molecular sensing and imaging has begun to take advantage of the unique physico-chemical properties of nanoparticles and nanotubes. Here we discuss the recent advances in the use of these nanostructures as alternative platforms for ROS sensing, with particular emphasis on intracellular and in vivo ROS detection and quantification.
Keywords: ROS sensors; hydrogen peroxide; nanoparticles; nanotubes; reactive oxygen species.