Two-photon intravital fluorescence lifetime imaging of the kidney reveals cell-type specific metabolic signatures

Takashi Hato, Seth Winfree, Richard Day, Ruben M. Sandoval, Bruce A. Molitoris, Mervin C. Yoder, Roger C. Wiggins, Yi Zheng, Kenneth W. Dunn, Pierre C. Dagher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


In the live animal, tissue autofluorescence arises froma number of biologically important metabolites, such as the reduced form of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide. Because autofluorescence changes with metabolic state, it can be harnessed as a label-free imaging tool with which to study metabolism in vivo. Here, we used the combination of intravital two-photon microscopy and frequency-domain fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) to map cell-specific metabolic signatures in the kidneys of live animals. The FLIM images are analyzed using the phasor approach, which requires no prior knowledge of metabolite species and can provide unbiased metabolic fingerprints for each pixel of the lifetime image. Intravital FLIM revealed the metabolic signatures of S1 and S2 proximal tubules to be distinct and resolvable at the subcellular level. Notably, S1 and distal tubules exhibited similar metabolic profiles despite apparent differences in morphology and autofluorescence emission with traditional two-photon microscopy. Time-lapse imaging revealed dynamic changes in the metabolic profiles of the interstitium, urinary lumen, and glomerulus-areas that are not resolved by traditional intensity-based two-photon microscopy. Finally, using a model of endotoxemia, we present examples of the way in which intravital FLIM can be applied to study kidney diseases andmetabolism. In conclusion, intravital FLIMof intrinsic metabolites is a bias-free approach with which to characterize and monitor metabolism in vivo, and offers the unique opportunity to uncover dynamic metabolic changes in living animals with subcellular resolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2420-2430
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Society of Nephrology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology

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