Fluorescent polydopamine nanoparticles as a probe for zebrafish sensory hair cells targeted in vivo imaging

Sci Rep. 2018 Mar 13;8(1):4393. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-22828-2.


Fluorescent polydopamine nanoparticles (FPNPs) are prepared via the ethylenediamine (EDA)-induced degradation of as-prepared non-fluorescent polydopamine (PDA) and used for targeted bioimaging. The reductive treatment of PDA in the presence of EDA yields fluorescent precipitates, inspiring us to seek various biological approaches to preparing FPNPs with excellent optical and biocompatible properties. Moreover, we firstly found that FPNPs selectively label neuromast hair cells in the lateral line of zebrafish, their applications as a reliable fluorescent indicator to investigate the neuromast hair cells, to in turn determine the viability of hair cells, was demonstrated. FPNPs also provided a minimal toxicity enable to assay the number of functional hair cells per neuromast in live animals as development proceeds. Upon combined incubation with TO-PRO-3, a well-established hair cell marker, all hair cells that were rapidly labeled with FPNPs were observed to be also completely labeled with the TO-PRO-3, labeling hair cells in neuromasts positioned in the supraorbital, otic and occipital lateral line as well as in posterior lateral line of living zebrafish larvae. Their potential efficacy for biological applications was demonstrated by their excellent optical and biocompatible properties, offering new opportunities in cancer research, real-time monitoring of stem cell transplantation and other cell-based therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Fluorescent Dyes* / chemistry
  • Hair Cells, Auditory / metabolism*
  • Hair Cells, Auditory / ultrastructure
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Indoles* / chemistry
  • Molecular Imaging*
  • Nanoparticles* / chemistry
  • Polymers* / chemistry
  • Spectrum Analysis
  • Zebrafish


  • Biomarkers
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Indoles
  • Polymers
  • polydopamine