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Scientific reports

Photoacoustic imaging of voltage responses beyond the optical diffusion limit.


PMID 28566693

Abstract

Non-invasive optical imaging of neuronal voltage response signals in live brains is constrained in depth by the optical diffusion limit, which is due primarily to optical scattering by brain tissues. Although photoacoustic tomography breaks this limit by exciting the targets with diffused photons and detecting the resulting acoustic responses, it has not been demonstrated as a modality for imaging voltage responses. In this communication, we report the first demonstration of photoacoustic voltage response imaging in both in vitro HEK-293 cell cultures and in vivo mouse brain surfaces. Using spectroscopic photoacoustic tomography at isosbestic wavelengths, we can separate voltage response signals and hemodynamic signals on live brain surfaces. By imaging HEK-293 cell clusters through 4.5 mm thick ex vivo rat brain tissue, we demonstrate photoacoustic tomography of cell membrane voltage responses beyond the optical diffusion limit. Although the current voltage dye does not immediately allow in vivo deep brain voltage response imaging, we believe our method opens up a feasible technical path for deep brain studies in the future.