Real-time ALT and LDH activities determined in viable precision-cut mouse liver slices using hyperpolarized [1-13C]pyruvate—Implications for studies on biopsied liver tissues

Naama Lev-Cohain, Gal Sapir, Talia Harris, Assad Azar, Ayelet Gamliel, Atara Nardi-Schreiber, Sivaranjan Uppala, Jacob Sosna, J. Moshe Gomori, Rachel Katz-Brull*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Precision-cut liver slices (PCLS) are widely used in liver research as they provide a liver model with all liver cell types in their natural architecture. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate the use of PCLS for hyperpolarized metabolic investigation in a mouse model, for potential future application in liver biopsy cores. Fresh normal liver was harvested from six mice. 500 μm PCLS were prepared and placed in a 10 mm NMR tube in an NMR spectrometer and perfused continuously. 31P spectra were acquired to evaluate the presence of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and validate viability in all samples. Hyperpolarized [1-13C]pyruvate was flushed into the NMR tube in the spectrometer. Consecutive 13C NMR spectra were acquired immediately after the injection using both non-selective (five injections, two livers) and selective RF excitation (six injections, three livers). The 31P spectra showed the characteristic signals of ATP, confirming the viability of the PCLS for more than 2.5 h in the spectrometer. After each of the [1-13C]pyruvate injections, both [1-13C]lactate and [1-13C]alanine signals were detected. Selective RF excitation aimed at both [1-13C]lactate and [1-13C]alanine enabled better visualization and quantification of the metabolic activity. Using this acquisition approach only the newly formed metabolites are observed upon excitation, and their intensities relative to those of hyperpolarized pyruvate enable quantification of metabolite production rates. This rate of lactate and alanine production appeared to be constant throughout the measurement time, with alanine production about 2.3 times higher than lactate. In summary, the viability of PCLS in an NMR spectrometer was demonstrated and hyperpolarized [1-13C]pyruvate metabolism was recorded. This study opens up the possibility of evaluating alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) activities in human liver biopsies, while preserving the tissue architecture and viability. In healthy, well-perfused liver slices the ratio of ALT to LDH activity is about 2.3.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere4043
JournalNMR in Biomedicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the European Research Council (ERC) grant number 338040.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


  • P and C-NMR
  • alanine
  • dissolution dynamic nuclear polarization
  • lactate
  • liver
  • metabolism
  • perfusion
  • pyruvate


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