Abstract Reactive oxygen species (ROS) have crucial roles in cell signaling and homeostasis. Overproduction of ROS can induce oxidative damage to various biomolecules and cellular structures. Therefore, developing an approach capable of monitoring and quantifying ROS in living cells is significant for physiology and clinical diagnoses. Some cell-permeable fluorogenic probes developed are useful for the detection of ROS while in conjunction with horseradish peroxidase (HRP). Their intracellular scenario is however hindered by the membrane-impermeable property of enzymes. Herein, a new approach for intracellular sensing of ROS by using horseradish peroxidase-encapsulated hollow silica nanospheres (designated HRP@HSNs), with satisfactory catalytic activity, cell membrane permeability, and biocompatibility, was prepared via a microemulsion method. These HRP@HSNs, combined with selective probes or targeting ligands, could be foreseen as ROS-detecting tools in specific organelles or cell types. As such, dihydrorhodamine 123-coupled HRP@HSNs were used for the qualitative and semi-quantitative analysis of physiological H2O2 levels in activated RAW 264.7 macrophages. We envision that this HSNs encapsulating active enzymes can be conjugated with selective probes and targeting ligands to detect ROS in specific organelles or cell types of interest.
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