Enhanced quantification of metabolic activity for individual adipocytes by label-free FLIM

Michael Evers*, Nunciada Salma, Sam Osseiran, Malte Casper, Reginald Birngruber, Conor L. Evans, Dieter Manstein

*Corresponding author for this work


Fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) of intrinsic fluorophores such as nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) allows for label-free quantification of metabolic activity of individual cells over time and in response to various stimuli, which is not feasible using traditional methods due to their destructive nature and lack of spatial information. This study uses FLIM to measure pharmacologically induced metabolic changes that occur during the browning of white fat. Adipocyte browning increases energy expenditure, making it a desirable prospect for treating obesity and related disorders. Expanding from the traditional two-lifetime model of NADH to a four-lifetime model using exponential fitting and phasor analysis of the fluorescence decay results in superior metabolic assessment compared to traditional FLIM analysis. The four lifetime components can also be mapped to specific cellular compartments to create a novel optical ratio that quantitatively reflects changes in mitochondrial and cytosolic NADH concentrations and binding states. This widely applicable approach constitutes a powerful tool for studies where monitoring cellular metabolism is of key interest.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8757
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01.12.2018
Externally publishedYes

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Biomedical Engineering


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