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Label-Free Metabolic Classification of Single Cells in Droplets Using the Phasor Approach to Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy.

  • Author(s): Ma, Ning
  • Kamalakshakurup, Gopakumar
  • Aghaamoo, Mohammad
  • Lee, Abraham P
  • Digman, Michelle A
  • et al.

Characterization of single cell metabolism is imperative for understanding subcellular functional and biochemical changes associated with healthy tissue development and the progression of numerous diseases. However, single-cell analysis often requires the use of fluorescent tags and cell lysis followed by genomic profiling to identify the cellular heterogeneity. Identifying individual cells in a noninvasive and label-free manner is crucial for the detection of energy metabolism which will discriminate cell types and most importantly critical for maintaining cell viability for further analysis. Here, we have developed a robust assay using the droplet microfluidic technology together with the phasor approach to fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy to study cell heterogeneity within and among the leukemia cell lines (K-562 and Jurkat). We have extended these techniques to characterize metabolic differences between proliferating and quiescent cells-a critical step toward label-free single cancer cell dormancy research. The result suggests a droplet-based noninvasive and label-free method to distinguish individual cells based on their metabolic states, which could be used as an upstream phenotypic platform to correlate with genomic statistics. © 2018 International Society for Advancement of Cytometry.

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