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Detection of Bacteria-Specific Metabolism Using Hyperpolarized [2-13C]Pyruvate


The differentiation of bacterial infection from other causes of inflammation is difficult in clinical practice and is critical where patient outcomes rely heavily on early interventions. In addition to physical exam and laboratory markers, several imaging modalities are frequently employed, but these techniques generally target the host immune response, rather than the living microorganisms themselves. Here, we describe a method to detect bacteria-specific metabolism using hyperpolarized (HP) 13C magnetic resonance spectroscopy. This technology allows visualization of the real-time conversion of enriched 13C substrates to their metabolic products, identified by their distinct chemical shifts. We have identified the rapid metabolism of HP [2-13C]pyruvate to [1-13C]acetate as a metabolic signature of common bacterial pathogens. We demonstrate this conversion in representative Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria, namely, Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus, and its absence in key mammalian cell types. Furthermore, this conversion was successfully modulated in three mutant strains, corresponding to deletions of relevant enzymes.

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