Mitochondria & Cell Metabolism

Long-term non-invasive live cell imaging of mitochondria and lipid droplets morphology & dynamics with Nanolive
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Changes in mitochondrial morphology are good indicators of cell health. Nanolive offers the only tool able to image these organelles, their finest dynamics and interactions with other organelles (e.g. lipid droplets) marker-free and for long periods of time enabling researchers to extract more in-depth information about mitochondrial and cell health.

New digital assay:: The Smart Lipid Droplet Assay (SLDA) has the potential to revolutionize medical research, by providing researchers access to an entire scale of lipid droplet (LD) dynamics that are unattainable using current techniques.

Smart Lipid Droplet Assay

The Smart Lipid Droplet Assay segments lipid droplets label-free based on their unique refractive index values for optimal results without the addition of stains or dyes.

It delivers 39 metrics for a complete quantitative analysis of LD morphology, content, and distribution, at the single cell scale and the population level.

Investigating mitochondrial responses to drug-perturbation

Almost all mitochondrial studies to date are fluorescence-based, yet fluorescence itself perturbs mitochondria and can even lead to cell death. Nanolive imaging provides a label-free alternative, ensuring researchers capture the real response of mitochondria to drug perturbation, at high frequencies and for unlimited periods of time, without experimental artefacts.

In this video, we perturb the mitochondrial network using Antimycin A; a potent inhibitor of cellular respiration. Cells were imaged once every 6 seconds for 15 mins using the 3D Cell Explorer-fluo. The addition of the drug causes mitochondria to become swollen and ring-shaped.

To find out why and to learn what granularity is, check out our application note here.

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Co-localizing mitochondria-specific fluorescent signals with RI

In this video, we observe a neurosphere culture from a transgenic mouse model that has been genetically-modified to express bright green fluorescent mitochondria.

Mitochondria can be seen shuttling between neurons, and undergoing fission-fusion events.

Images were captured once every 10 secs for 10 mins, using Nanolive’s 3D Cell Explorer-fluo.
Read more in our blogpost here

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Visualizing mitochondria dynamics: fission, fusion, and the mitochondrial network

This movie serves to draw your attention to fine scale mitochondria dynamics. Dynamic details of fission-fusion events and mitochondrial network remodelling are highlighted.

This video shows live imaging of mouse pre-adipocyte cells. Images were acquired for 48 hours at a rate of 1 image per minute.

The cells were imaged with the 3D Cell Explorer.

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Download here our poster “Phototoxicity in live cell imaging: the evil within”.


Exploring the dynamics of lipid droplet formation

Mitochondria and lipid droplets provide a clearly distinguishable RI signal in two and three dimensions. This allows our instrument to image them live and marker-free, in contrast to other techniques which require, mitochondrial or lipid chemical markers. In this video you can see live imaging of LD growth in HeLa cells after Oleic Acid loading using Nanolive imaging. Movie length, 3 h; acquisition frequency, 1 image / min-1.

Read the PLOS Biology publication about Nanolive‘s technology.

Download here our poster “Quantifying dry mass dynamics in lipid droplets using Nanolive cell imaging”.

Scientific Publications

Nanolive label-free live cell imaging has already shed light on many important topics in the field of mitochondria and cell metabolism research. To get inspired and learn how your research can benefit from our technology, we invite you to check out these scientific articles published by our clients.

Feature Poster

Organelle guide poster

Guide to label-free organelle identification

Nanolive platforms image cells label-free, using the intrinsic refractive index of cellular components. The higher the refractive index, the brighter an object appears, which allows us to identify many different organelles without fluorescence or dyes.

Download our High Resolution Poster >

Feature Application

Feature application: Cell Metabolism

In this Feature Application, we show that: (1) holotomography can resolve the spatial and temporal dynamics of mitochondria, LDs and mitochondria-LD interactions in unperturbed conditions; (2) it is possible to induce mitochondrial dysfunction and then restore functioning by the addition of a specific drug and (3) it is possible to induce and then visualize the early stages of LD formation.

Download our Feature Application Note >


Watch our Webinar: Label-free quantification of cell metabolism: focus on mitochondria and lipid droplet dynamics

In this webinar, Dr. Emma Gibbin-Lameira, Communications Specialist at Nanolive:

  • Shows time-lapse footage of mitochondrial swelling and dysfunction following perturbation.
  • Introduces a cell metric called granularity and discusses whether changes in this measurement could be a signal of stress preceding cell death.
  • Presents a fully quantitative analysis of lipid droplet dynamics in unperturbed cells, starting at the population level and finishing at level of an individual lipid droplet. Correlations between lipid droplet characteristics and other cell morphological traits (e.g. dry mass) are also be featured for the first time.

Please register here to view the webinar on-demand:

Video library

3T3-derived preadipocyte cell 


Mitochondrial trafficking in healthy neurons

Read our Feature Client here


Effect of fluorescence on mitochondrial health

Watch our webinar here


Effect of Valproic Acid on cell phenotype

Read the blogpost here

Transport of melanin granules in melanocytes

Read the blogpost here


Structure of melanin granules in melanocytes

Read the blogpost here

Mitochondria perturbation and rescue

Read the blogpost here

Norepinephrine-induced changes in lipid droplet morphology

Read the blogpost here


Can mitochondria be transferred between cells?

Read the blogpost here

Nanolive imaging and analysis platforms

Swiss high-precision imaging and analysis platforms that look instantly inside label-free living cells in 3D


Automated label-free live cell imaging and analysis solution: a unique walk-away solution for long-term live cell imaging of single cells and cell populations

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Multimodal Complete Solution: combine high quality non-invasive 4D live cell imaging with fluorescence

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3D Cell Explorer front view


Budget-friendly, easy-to-use, compact solution for high quality non-invasive 4D live cell imaging

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