Sensing Temperature in Vitro and in Cells Using a BODIPY Molecular Probe

Meredith M. Ogle, Ashleigh D. Smith McWilliams, Matthew J. Ware, Steven A. Curley, Stuart J. Corr, Angel A. Martí

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Boron dipyrromethene (BODIPY) molecular rotors have shown sensitivity toward viscosity, polarity, and temperature. Here, we report a 1,3,5,7-tetramethyl-8-phenyl-BODIPY modified with a polyethylene glycol (PEG) chain, for temperature sensing and live cell imaging. This new PEG-BODIPY dye presents an increase in nonradiative decay as temperature increases, which directly influences its lifetime. This change in lifetime is dependent on changes in both temperature and viscosity at low viscosity values, but is only dependent on temperature at high viscosity values. The dependence of fluorescence lifetime with temperature allows for temperature monitoring in vitro and in cells, with sub degree resolution. When in contact with cells, the PEG-BODIPY spontaneously penetrates and stains the cell but not the nucleus. Furthermore, no significant cell toxicity was found even at 100 μM concentration. Using fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM), we were able to observe the changes in the lifetime of PEG-BODIPY within the cell at different temperatures. The use of FLIM and molecular probes such as PEG-BODIPY can provide important information about cellular temperature and heat dissipation upon medically relevant stimuli, such as radiofrequency ablation and photodynamic therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7282-7289
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number34
StatePublished - May 8 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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