Quantum monitoring of cellular metabolic activities in single mitochondria

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Science Advances  19 May 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 21, eabf0573
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abf0573


Free radicals play a vital role in all kinds of biological processes including immune responses. However, free radicals have short lifetimes and are highly reactive, making them difficult to measure using current methods. Here, we demonstrate that relaxometry measurement, or T1, inherited from the field of diamond magnetometry can be used to detect free radicals in living cells with subcellular resolution. This quantum sensing technique is based on defects in diamond, which convert a magnetic signal into an optical signal, allowing nanoscale magnetic resonance measurements. We functionalized fluorescent nanodiamonds (FNDs) to target single mitochondria within macrophage cells to detect the metabolic activity. In addition, we performed measurements on single isolated mitochondria. We were able to detect free radicals generated by individual mitochondria in either living cells or isolated mitochondria after stimulation or inhibition.

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