We study the fluorescence lifetime of the well-known 1-pyrene butyric acid (PBA) to assess oxygen concentrations in living cells. The behavior of the probe is first studied in water, ethanol, protein solution and liposome suspension. The Stern–Volmer plot of these solutions is linear, and the bimolecular reaction rate constant agrees with previous observations. In single living cells, the PBA lifetime decreases with oxygen concentration (185 to 55 ns). The probe lifetime differences between living cells and liposome suspension, especially under nitrogen atmosphere, suggest a supplemental pathway for the deactivation of the probe. We simplify further the complex living cells system by stopping the cell functions and studying freshly fixed cells. In this case, we obtained an increase of PBA lifetime under nitrogen atmosphere (215 ns).
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Vol. 80 • No. 2