Monitoring real-time hormone release kinetics via high-content 3-D imaging of compensatory endocytosis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


High-content real-time imaging of hormone secretion in tissues or cell populations is a challenging task, which is unlikely to be resolved directly, despite immense translational value. We approach this problem indirectly, using compensatory endocytosis, a process that closely follows exocytosis in the cell, as a surrogate read-out for secretion. The tissue is immobilized in an open-air perifusion chamber and imaged using a two-photon microscope. A fluorescent polar tracer, perifused through the experimental circuit, gets trapped into the cells via endocytosis, and is quantified using a feature-detection algorithm. The signal of the tracer that accumulates into the endocytotic system reliably reflects stimulated exocytosis, which is demonstrated via co-imaging of the latter using existing reporters. A high signal-to-noise ratio and compatibility with multisensor imaging affords the real-time quantification of the secretion at the tissue/population level, whereas the cumulative nature of the signal allows imprinting of the "secretory history" within each cell. The technology works for several cell types, reflects disease progression and can be used for human tissue.


  • Andrei I Tarasov
  • Juris Galvanovskis
  • Olof Rorsman
  • Alexander Hamilton
  • Elisa Vergari
  • Paul R V Johnson
  • Frank Reimann
  • Frances M Ashcroft
  • Patrik Rorsman
External organisations
  • Addenbrooke's Hospital
  • University of Oxford
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cell and Molecular Biology


  • Animals, Endocytosis, Hormones/metabolism, Humans, Imaging, Three-Dimensional, Insulin/metabolism, Insulin-Secreting Cells/cytology, Kinetics, Mice, Neurons/cytology, Perfusion
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2838-2848
Number of pages11
JournalLab on a Chip
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Sep 11
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes