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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Biophysics - Physics - Physiology - Radiology and Medical Imaging

Radioluminescence Microscopy: Measuring the Heterogeneous Uptake of Radiotracers in Single Living Cells
Published: Wednesday, October 03, 2012
Author: Guillem Pratx et al.

by Guillem Pratx, Kai Chen, Conroy Sun, Lynn Martin, Colin M. Carpenter, Peter D. Olcott, Lei Xing

Radiotracers play an important role in interrogating molecular processes both in vitro and in vivo. However, current methods are limited to measuring average radiotracer uptake in large cell populations and, as a result, lack the ability to quantify cell-to-cell variations. Here we apply a new technique, termed radioluminescence microscopy, to visualize radiotracer uptake in single living cells, in a standard fluorescence microscopy environment. In this technique, live cells are cultured sparsely on a thin scintillator plate and incubated with a radiotracer. Light produced following beta decay is measured using a highly sensitive microscope. Radioluminescence microscopy revealed strong heterogeneity in the uptake of [18F]fluoro-deoxyglucose (FDG) in single cells, which was found consistent with fluorescence imaging of a glucose analog. We also verified that dynamic uptake of FDG in single cells followed the standard two-tissue compartmental model. Last, we transfected cells with a fusion PET/fluorescence reporter gene and found that uptake of FHBG (a PET radiotracer for transgene expression) coincided with expression of the fluorescent protein. Together, these results indicate that radioluminescence microscopy can visualize radiotracer uptake with single-cell resolution, which may find a use in the precise characterization of radiotracers.
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