Ascorbic acid is an important antioxidant that playsan essential role in the biosynthesis of numerous bioactive substances. The detection of ascorbic acid has traditionally been achieved using high-performance liquid chromatography and absorption spectro-photometry assays. However, the development of fluorescence probes for this purpose is highly desired because they provide a much more convenient and highly sensitive technique for the detection of this material. OFF-ON-type fluorescent probes have been developed for the detection of non-fluorescent compounds. Photo-induced electron transfer and fluorescence resonance energy transfer are the two main fluorescence quenching mechanisms for the detection of ascorbic acid, and several fluorescence probes have been reported based on redox-responsive metals and quantum dots. Profluorescent nitroxide compounds have also been developed as non-metal organic fluorescence probes for ascorbic acid. These nitroxide systems have a stable unpaired electron and can therefore react with ascorbic acid and a strong fluorescence quencher. Furthermore, recent synthetic advances have allowed for the synthesis of a-substituted nitroxides with varying levels of reactivity towards ascorbic acid. In this review, we have discussed the design strategies used for the preparation of fluorescent probes for ascorbic acid, with particular emphasis on profluorescent nitroxides, which are unique radical-based redox-active fluorescent probes.
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