Multiphoton excitation of autofluorescence for microscopy of glioma tissue

Jan Leppert, Jochen Krajewski, Sven Rainer Kantelhardt, Sven Schlaffer, Nadine Petkus, Erich Reusche, Gerion Hüttmann, Alf Giese*

*Corresponding author for this work
80 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: Intraoperative detection of residual tumor tissue in glioma surgery remains an important challenge because the extent of tumor removal is related to the prognosis of the disease. Multiphoton excited fluorescence tomography of living tissues provides high-resolution structural and photochemical imaging at a subcellular level. In this conceptual study, we have used multiphoton microscopy and fluorescence lifetime imaging (4D microscopy) to image cultured glioma cell lines, solid tumor, and invasive tumor cells in an experimental mouse glioma model and human glioma biopsy specimens. MATERIAL AND METHODS: A laser imaging system containing a mode-locked 80 MHz titanium:sapphire laser with a tuning range of 710 to 920 nm, a scan unit, and a time correlated single photon counting board was used to generate autofluorescence intensity images and fluorescence lifetime images of cultured cell lines, experimental intracranial gliomas in mouse brain, and biopsies of human gliomas. RESULTS: Multiphoton microscopy of native tumor bearing brain provided structural images of the normal brain anatomy at a subcellular resolution. Solid tumor, the tumor-brain interface, and single invasive tumor cells could be visualized. Fluorescence lifetime imaging demonstrated significantly different decay of the fluorescent signal in tumor versus normal brain, allowing a clear definition of the tumor-brain interface based on this parameter. Distinct fluorescence lifetimes of endogenous fluorophores were found in different cellular compartments in cultured glioma cells. The analysis of the relationship between the laser excitation wavelength and the lifetime of excitable fluorophores demonstrated distinct profiles for cells of different histotypes. CONCLUSION: Multiphoton excited fluorescence of endogenous fluorophores allows structural imaging of tumor and central nervous system histo-architecture at a subcellular level. The analysis of the decay of the fluorescent signal within specific excitation volumes by fluorescent lifetime imaging discriminates glioma cells and normal brain, and the excitation/lifetime profiles may further allow differentiation of cellular histo-types. This technology provides a noninvasive optical tissue analysis that may potentially be applied to an intraoperative analysis of resection plains in tumor surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)759-767
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 04.2006


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