Photoacoustic imaging is attracting a great deal of interest owing to its distinct advantages over other imaging techniques such as fluorescence or magnetic resonance image. The availability of photoacoustic probes for reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (ROS/RNS) could shed light on a plethora of biological processes mediated by these key intermediates. Tetramethylbenzidine (TMB) is a non-toxic and non-mutagenic colorless dye that develops a distinctive blue color upon oxidation. In this work, we have investigated the potential of TMB as an acoustogenic photoacoustic probe for ROS/RNS. Our results indicate that TMB reacts with hypochlorite, hydrogen peroxide, singlet oxygen, and nitrogen dioxide to produce the blue oxidation product, while ROS, such as the superoxide radical anion, sodium peroxide, hydroxyl radical, or peroxynitrite, yield a colorless oxidation product. TMB does not penetrate the Escherichia coli cytoplasm but is capable of detecting singlet oxygen generated in its outer membrane.
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