Imaging redox state heterogeneity within individual embryonic stem cell colonies

He N. Xu, Russell C. Addis, Davida F. Goings, Shoko Nioka, Britton Chance, John D. Gearhart, Lin Z. Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Redox state mediates embryonic stem cell (ESC) differentiation and thus offers an important complementary approach to understanding the pluripotency of stem cells. NADH redox ratio (NADH/(Fp + NADH)), where NADH is the reduced form of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide and Fp is the oxidized flavoproteins, has been established as a sensitive indicator of mitochondrial redox state. In this paper, we report our redox imaging data on the mitochondrial redox state of mouse ESC (mESC) colonies and the implications thereof. The low-temperature NADH/Fp redox scanner was employed to image mESC colonies grown on a feeder layer of gamma-irradiated mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) on glass cover slips. The result showed significant heterogeneity in the mitochondrial redox state within individual mESC colonies (size: ∼200-440 μm), exhibiting a core with a more reduced state than the periphery. This more reduced state positively correlates with the expression pattern of Oct4, a well-established marker of pluripotency. Our observation is the first to show the heterogeneity in the mitochondrial redox state within a mESC colony, suggesting that mitochondrial redox state should be further investigated as a potential new biomarker for the stemness of embryonic stem cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-288
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Innovative Optical Health Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • flavoproteins
  • NADH
  • pluripotency
  • Redox imaging
  • redox ratio

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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