Autofluorescence Imaging to Evaluate Cellular Metabolism.
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Cellular metabolism is the process by which cells generate energy, and many diseases, including cancer, are characterized by abnormal metabolism. Reduced nicotinamide adenine (phosphate) dinucleotide (NAD(P)H) and oxidized flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) are coenzymes of metabolic reactions. NAD(P)H and FAD exhibit autofluorescence and can be spectrally isolated by excitation and emission wavelengths. Both coenzymes, NAD(P)H and FAD, can exist in either a free or protein-bound configuration, each of which has a distinct fluorescence lifetime-the time for which the fluorophore remains in the excited state. Fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) allows quantification of the fluorescence intensity and lifetimes of NAD(P)H and FAD for label-free analysis of cellular metabolism. Fluorescence intensity and lifetime microscopes can be optimized for imaging NAD(P)H and FAD by selecting the appropriate excitation and emission wavelengths. Metabolic perturbations by cyanide verify autofluorescence imaging protocols to detect metabolic changes within cells. This article will demonstrate the technique of autofluorescence imaging of NAD(P)H and FAD for measuring cellular metabolism.