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In Vivo Reporter of Endolysosomal Lipids Reveals Enduring Effects of Diet on Hepatic Macrophages



Ming Zheng, Geyou Ao


The abnormal accumulation of lipids within the endolysosomal lumen occurs in many conditions, including lysosomal storage disorders and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Current technologies cannot monitor endolysosomal lipid content in vivo, hindering drug development and our understanding of NAFLD pathophysiology. We developed a carbon nanotube-based optical reporter that non-invasively measures endolysosomal lipid accumulation in vivo via bandgap modulation of its intrinsic near-infrared emission. The reporter detected lipid accumulation in live Niemann- Pick disease, atherosclerosis, and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) models. Using the technology, we discovered endolysosomal lipid accumulation in hepatic macrophages in early stages of progression towards NASH. Elevated lipid levels also persist long after reverting to a normal diet, suggesting that dietary changes induce long-term modulation of hepatic macrophage physiology towards a NASH phenotype.
Science Translational Medicine


biosensors, carbon nanotubes


Zheng, M. and Ao, G. (2018), In Vivo Reporter of Endolysosomal Lipids Reveals Enduring Effects of Diet on Hepatic Macrophages, Science Translational Medicine, [online], (Accessed April 18, 2024)
Created October 3, 2018, Updated February 7, 2020