Real-Time Noninvasive Imaging of Fatty Acid Uptake in Vivo
Detection and quantification of fatty acid fluxes in animal model systems following physiological, pathological, or pharmacological challenges is key to our understanding of complex metabolic networks as these macronutrients also activate transcription factors and modulate signaling cascades including insulin sensitivity. To enable noninvasive, real-time, spatiotemporal quantitative imaging of fatty acid fluxes in animals, we created a bioactivatable molecular imaging probe based on long-chain fatty acids conjugated to a reporter molecule (luciferin). We show that this probe faithfully recapitulates cellular fatty acid uptake and can be used in animal systems as a valuable tool to localize and quantitate in real time lipid fluxes such as intestinal fatty acid absorption and brown adipose tissue activation. This imaging approach should further our understanding of basic metabolic processes and pathological alterations in multiple disease models.