Quantitative fluorescence imaging of mitochondria in body wall muscles of Caenorhabditis elegans under hyperglycemic conditions using a microfluidic chip

Samuel Sofela, Sarah Sahloul, Sukanta Bhattacharjee, Ambar Bose, Ushna Usman, Yong Ak Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Type 2 diabetes is the most common metabolic disease, and insulin resistance plays a role in the pathogenesis of the disease. Because completely functional mitochondria are necessary to obtain glucose-stimulated insulin from pancreatic beta cells, dysfunction of mitochondrial oxidative pathway could be involved in the development of diabetes. As a simple animal model, Caenorhabditis elegans renders itself to investigate such metabolic mechanisms because it possesses insulin/insulin-like growth factor-1 signaling pathway similar to that in humans. Currently, the widely spread agarose pad-based immobilization technique for fluorescence imaging of the mitochondria in C. elegans is laborious, batchwise, and does not allow for facile handling of the worm. To overcome these technical challenges, we have developed a single-channel microfluidic device that can trap a C. elegans and allow to image the mitochondria in body wall muscles accurately and in higher throughput than the traditional approach. In specific, our microfluidic device took advantage of the proprioception of the worm to rotate its body in a microfluidic channel with an aspect ratio above one to gain more space for its undulation motion that was favorable for quantitative fluorescence imaging of mitochondria in the body wall muscles. Exploiting this unique feature of the microfluidic chip-based immobilization and fluorescence imaging, we observed a significant decrease in the mitochondrial fluorescence intensity under hyperglycemic conditions, whereas the agarose pad-based approach did not show any significant change under the same conditions. A machine learning model trained with these fluorescence images from the microfluidic device could classify healthy and hyperglycemic worms at high accuracy. Given this significant technological advantage, its easiness of use and low cost, our microfluidic imaging chip could become a useful immobilization tool for quantitative fluorescence imaging of the body wall muscles in C. elegans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)150-160
Number of pages11
JournalIntegrative Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 19 2020


  • C. elegans
  • fluorescent imaging
  • hyperglycemia
  • microfluidics
  • mitochondria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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