Combined Optical Coherence and Fluorescence Microscopy to assess dynamics and specificity of pancreatic beta-cell tracers
The identification of a beta-cell tracer is a major quest in diabetes research. However, since MRI, PET and SPECT cannot resolve individual islets, optical techniques are required to assess the specificity of these tracers. We propose to combine Optical Coherence Microscopy (OCM) with fluorescence detection in a single optical platform to facilitate these initial screening steps from cell culture up to living rodents. OCM can image islets and vascularization without any labeling. Thereby, it alleviates the need of both genetically modified mice to detect islets and injection of external dye to reveal vascularization. We characterized Cy5.5-exendin-3, an agonist of glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor (GLP1R), for which other imaging modalities have been used and can serve as a reference. Cultured cells transfected with GLP1R and incubated with Cy5.5-exendin-3 show full tracer internalization. We determined that a dose of 1 μg of Cy5.5-exendin-3 is sufficient to optically detect in vivo the tracer in islets with a high specificity. In a next step, time-lapse OCM imaging was used to monitor the rapid and specific tracer accumulation in murine islets and its persistence over hours. This optical platform represents a versatile toolbox for selecting beta-cell specific markers for diabetes research and future clinical diagnosis.