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World's first successful visualization of key coenzyme

April 16, 2014
National Institute for Materials Science
Japanese researchers have successfully developed the world's first imaging method for visualizing the behavior of nicotine-adenine dinucleotide derivative (NAD(P)H), a key coenzyme, inside cells. This feat could ultimately facilitate the diagnosis of cancer and liver dysfunction and help to elucidate the mechanisms of neurological disorders.
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Fluorescent imaging of HeLa cell.
Credit: Copyright National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS)

A Japanese research team led by Drs. Hirokazu Komatsu and Katsuhiko Ariga of the International Center for Materials Nanoarchitectonics, in collaboration with Professors Yutaka Shido and Kotaro Oka of Keio University, have developed the world's first method for visualising the coenzyme nicotine-adenine dinucleotide derivative (NAD(P)H) inside cells.

Fluorescent imaging -- used to identify and visualise cellular components by attaching a fluorescent substance -- is an effective method for exploring vital phenomena. Until now, however, the development of a method for visualising NAD(P)H, which plays a key role in various vital phenomena and diseases, has proven elusive due to the low reactivity of NAD(P)H to fluorescent substances.

The research group succeeded in developing a new fluorescent probe that specifically reacts with NAD(P)H, and achieved fluorescent imaging of NAD(P)H for the first time in the world, through the combined use of the new probe and an artificial promoter capable of promoting reactivity.

The new NADH imaging method could be used for various purposes, including: promoting early detection and supporting cancer treatment by detecting NADH leakage from invasive cancers; diagnosing liver dysfunction by detecting excessive NADH caused by cirrhosis of the liver; and elucidating the lack of NADH in patients with brain or neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease, depression, and Parkinson's Disease. The new method will also prove of great value in other life sciences research.

The research results will be published in a German scientific journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

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The above story is based on materials provided by National Institute for Materials Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Hirokazu Komatsu, Yutaka Shindo, Kotaro Oka, Jonathan P. Hill, Katsuhiko Ariga. Ubiquinone-Rhodol (UQ-Rh) for Fluorescence Imaging of NAD(P)H through Intracellular Activation. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2014; 53 (15): 3993 DOI: 10.1002/anie.201311192

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National Institute for Materials Science. "World's first successful visualization of key coenzyme." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 April 2014. <>.
National Institute for Materials Science. (2014, April 16). World's first successful visualization of key coenzyme. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 26, 2015 from
National Institute for Materials Science. "World's first successful visualization of key coenzyme." ScienceDaily. (accessed April 26, 2015).

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