Mid-infrared metabolic imaging with vibrational probes

Nat Methods. 2020 Aug;17(8):844-851. doi: 10.1038/s41592-020-0883-z. Epub 2020 Jun 29.


Understanding metabolism is indispensable in unraveling the mechanistic basis of many physiological and pathological processes. However, in situ metabolic imaging tools are still lacking. Here we introduce a framework for mid-infrared (MIR) metabolic imaging by coupling the emerging high-information-throughput MIR microscopy with specifically designed IR-active vibrational probes. We present three categories of small vibrational tags including azide bond, 13C-edited carbonyl bond and deuterium-labeled probes to interrogate various metabolic activities in cells, small organisms and mice. Two MIR imaging platforms are implemented including broadband Fourier transform infrared microscopy and discrete frequency infrared microscopy with a newly incorporated spectral region (2,000-2,300 cm-1). Our technique is uniquely suited to metabolic imaging with high information throughput. In particular, we performed single-cell metabolic profiling including heterogeneity characterization, and large-area metabolic imaging at tissue or organ level with rich spectral information.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms
  • Nonlinear Optical Microscopy
  • Single-Cell Analysis / methods*
  • Spectrophotometry, Infrared / methods*
  • Vibration