Analyzing cell-type-specific dynamics of metabolism in kidney repair – Nature.com

Understanding dynamic metabolic changes in complex biological samples often overlooks heterogeneity in cell composition. Wang et al. combine mass spectrometry imaging, isotope tracing, and multiplexed immunofluorescence microscopy to study metabolic dynamics in the kidney upon ischemia–reperfusion.

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Nature Metabolism

(2022)Cite this article

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A common drawback of metabolic analyses of complex biological samples is the inability to consider cell-to-cell heterogeneity in the context of an organ or tissue. To overcome this limitation, we present an advanced high-spatial-resolution metabolomics approach using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry imaging (MALDI-MSI) combined with isotope tracing. This method allows mapping of cell-type-specific dynamic changes in central carbon metabolism in the context of a complex heterogeneous tissue architecture, such as the kidney. Combined with multiplexed immunofluorescence staining, this method can detect metabolic changes and nutrient partitioning in targeted cell types, as demonstrated in a bilateral renal ischemia–reperfusion injury (bIRI) experimental model. Our approach enables us to identify region-specific metabolic perturbations associated with the lesion and throughout recovery, including unexpected metabolic anomalies in cells with an apparently normal phenotype in the recovery phase. These findings may be relevant to an understanding of the homeostatic capacity of the kidney microenvironment. In sum, this method allows us to achieve resolution at the single-cell level in situ and hence to interpret cell-type-specific metabolic dynamics in the context of structure and metabolism of neighboring cells.