Fatty acid (FA) metabolism directly influences the functional capabilities of T cells in tumor microenvironments. Thus, developing tools to interrogate FA-uptake by T cell subsets is important for understanding tumor immunosuppression. Herein, we have generated a novel FA-Qdot 605 dye conjugate with superior sensitivity and flexibility to any of the previously commercially available alternatives. For the first time, we demonstrate that this nanoparticle can be used as a specific measure of fatty acid uptake by T cells both in-vitro and in-vivo. Flow cytometric analysis shows that both the location and activation status of T cells determines their FA uptake. Additionally, CD4+ Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) uptake FA at a higher rate than effector T cell subsets, supporting the role of FA metabolism for Treg function. Furthermore, we are able to simultaneously detect glucose and fatty acid uptake directly within the tumor microenvironment. Cumulatively, our results suggest that this novel fluorescent probe is a powerful tool to understand FA utilization within the tumor, thereby providing an unprecedented opportunity to study T cell FA metabolism in-vivo.
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