Programmed cell death, or apoptosis, is an essential process in development and homeostasis, and disruptions in associated pathways are responsible for a wide variety of diseases such as cancer, developmental abnormalities, and Alzheimer’s disease. On the other hand, cell death, in many cases, is the desired outcome of therapeutic treatments targeting diseases such as cancer. Recently, metabolic imaging based on two-photon fluorescence microscopy has been developed and shown to be highly sensitive to certain cell death processes, most notably apoptosis, thus having the potential as an advanced label-free screening tool. However, the typically low acquisition rates of this imaging technique have resulted in a limited throughput approach, allowing only a small population of cells to be tracked at well-separated time points. To address this limitation, a high-speed two-photon fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (2P-FLIM) platform capable of video-rate imaging is applied to study and further characterize the metabolic dynamics associated with cell death. Building upon previous work demonstrating the capabilities of this system, this microscope is utilized to study rapid metabolic changes during cell death induction, such as dose-dependency of metabolic response, response in invasive vs. noninvasive cancer cells, and response in an apoptosis-resistant cell line, which is further shown to undergo autophagy in response to toxic stimuli. Results from these experiments show that the early apoptosis-related metabolic dynamics are strongly correlated with important cellular parameters including responsiveness to apoptosis-inducing stimuli. The high speed and sensitivity of the presented imaging approach enables new investigations into this highly dynamic and complex process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6408-6421
Number of pages14
JournalBiomedical Optics Express
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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