Principles of responsive lanthanide-based luminescent probes for cellular imaging

Aurore Thibon, Valérie C. Pierre

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

230 Scopus citations


The advent of chemical tools for cellular imaging-from organic dyes to green fluorescent proteins-has revolutionized the fields of molecular biology and biochemistry. Lanthanide-based probes are a new player in this area, as the last decade has seen the emergence of the first responsive luminescent lanthanide probes specifically intended for imaging cellular processes. The potential of these probes is still undervalued by the scientific community. Indeed, this class of probes offers several advantages over organic dyes and fluorescent proteins. Their very long luminescence lifetimes enable quantitative spatial determination of the intracellular concentration of an analyte through time-gating measurements. Their emission bands are very narrow and do not overlap, enabling the simultaneous use of multiple lanthanide probes to quantitatively detect several analytes without cross-interference. Herein we describe the principles behind the development of this class of probes. Sensors for a desired analyte can be designed by rationally manipulating the parameters that influence the luminescence of lanthanide complexes. We will discuss sensors based on varying the number of inner-sphere water molecules, the distance separating the antenna from the lanthanide ion, the energies of excited states of the antenna, and PeT switches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-120
Number of pages14
JournalAnalytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2009


  • Cellular probes
  • Lanthanide luminescence
  • Photoelectron transfer
  • Sensitized emission
  • Sensors
  • Time-gated detection


Dive into the research topics of 'Principles of responsive lanthanide-based luminescent probes for cellular imaging'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this