A Phosphorus Phthalocyanine Formulation with Intense Absorbance at 1000 nm for Deep Optical Imaging

Theranostics. 2016 Mar 11;6(5):688-97. doi: 10.7150/thno.14555. eCollection 2016.


Although photoacoustic computed tomography (PACT) operates with high spatial resolution in biological tissues deeper than other optical modalities, light scattering is a limiting factor. The use of longer near infrared wavelengths reduces scattering. Recently, the rational design of a stable phosphorus phthalocyanine (P-Pc) with a long wavelength absorption band beyond 1000 nm has been reported. Here, we show that when dissolved in liquid surfactants, P-Pc can give rise to formulations with absorbance of greater than 1000 (calculated for a 1 cm path length) at wavelengths beyond 1000 nm. Using the broadly accessible Nd:YAG pulse laser emission output of 1064 nm, P-Pc could be imaged through 11.6 cm of chicken breast with PACT. P-Pc accumulated passively in tumors following intravenous injection in mice as observed by PACT. Following oral administration, P-Pc passed through the intestine harmlessly, and PACT could be used to non-invasively observe intestine function. When the contrast agent placed under the arm of a healthy adult human, a PACT transducer on the top of the arm could readily detect P-Pc through the entire 5 cm limb. Thus, the approach of using contrast media with extreme absorption at 1064 nm readily enables high quality optical imaging in vitro and in vivo in humans at exceptional depths.

Keywords: photoacoustic computed tomography.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intravenous
  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Chemical Phenomena
  • Chickens
  • Humans
  • Indoles / chemistry
  • Indoles / pharmacokinetics*
  • Mice
  • Optical Imaging / methods*
  • Phosphorus / chemistry
  • Phosphorus / pharmacokinetics*
  • Photoacoustic Techniques / methods
  • Radiation-Sensitizing Agents / chemistry
  • Radiation-Sensitizing Agents / pharmacokinetics*


  • Indoles
  • Radiation-Sensitizing Agents
  • Phosphorus
  • phthalocyanine