All living cells generate the dicarbonyl metabolite methylglyoxal (MGO), but it is also associated with several diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hyperalgesia, and kidney disease. Understanding its role in healthy and diseased cells has been difficult until now because there were no direct methods for detecting and monitoring it.
David Spiegel, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA, and colleagues have devised a physiological sensor based on a fluorescent entity, methyl diaminobenzene/BODIPY (boron-dipyrromethene) or “MBo”, that works under physiological conditions. Importantly, the use of this “switch on” sensor does not require lysis of the cells being investigated and so can be employed in investigations of plasma or serum by using fluorescence microscopy.
As such, the sensor has potential for clinical diagnosis as well as biomedical research into this important metabolite.