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Nature photonics

All-optical anatomical co-registration for molecular imaging of small animals using dynamic contrast.


PMID 18974848

Abstract

Optical molecular imaging in small animals harnesses the power of highly specific and biocompatible contrast agents for drug development and disease research1-7. However, the widespread adoption of in vivo optical imaging has been inhibited by its inability to clearly resolve and identify targeted internal organs. Optical tomography8-11 and combined X-ray and micro-computed tomography (micro-CT)12 approaches developed to address this problem are generally expensive, complex or incapable of true anatomical co-registration. Here, we present a remarkably simple all-optical method that can generate co-registered anatomical maps of a mouse's internal organs, while also acquiring in vivo molecular imaging data. The technique uses a time series of images acquired after injection of an inert dye. Differences in the dye's in vivo biodistribution dynamics allow precise delineation and identification of major organs. Such co-registered anatomical maps permit longitudinal organ identification irrespective of repositioning or weight gain, thereby promising greatly improved accuracy and versatility for studies of orthotopic disease, diagnostics and therapies.

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