Radionuclides are used for sensitive and specific detection of small molecules in vivo and in vitro. Recently, radioluminescence microscopy extended their use to single-cell studies. Here we propose a new single-cell radioisotopic assay that improves throughput while adding sorting capabilities. The new method uses fluorescence-based sensor for revealing single-cell interactions with radioactive molecular markers. This study focuses on comparing two different experimental approaches. Several probes were tested and Dihydrorhodamine 123 was selected as the best compromise between sensitivity, brightness and stability. The sensor was incorporated either directly within the cell cytoplasm (direct approach), or it was coencapsulated with radiolabeled single-cells in oil-dispersed water droplets (droplet approach). Both approaches successfully activated the fluorescence signal following cellular uptake of 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) and external Xrays exposure. The direct approach offered single-cell resolution and longtime stability ( > 20 hours), moreover it could discriminate FDG uptake at labelling concentration as low as 300 μCi/ml. In cells incubated with Dihydrorhodamine 123 after exposure to high radiation doses (8-16 Gy), the fluorescence signal was found to increase with the depletion of ROS quenchers. On the other side, the droplet approach required higher labelling concentrations (1.00 mCi/ml), and, at the current state of art, three cells per droplet are necessary to produce a fluorescent signal. This approach, however, is independent on cellular oxidative stress and, with further improvements, will be more suitable for studying heterogeneous populations. We anticipate this technology to pave the way for the analysis of single-cell interactions with radiomarkers by radiofluorogenic-activated single-cell sorting.
M. E. Gallina, T. J. Kim, J. Vasquez, S. Tuerkcan, P. Abbyad, and G. Pratx, "Single-cell analysis of radiotracers' uptake by fluorescence microscopy: direct and droplet approach," Proc. SPIE 10068, Imaging, Manipulation, and Analysis of Biomolecules, Cells, and Tissues XV, 100680Y (Presented at SPIE BiOS: February 01, 2017; Published: 16 February 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2253169.
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