As an optical-acoustic hybrid imaging technology, photoacoustic imaging uniquely combines the advantages of rich optical contrast with high ultrasonic resolution in depth, opening up many new possibilities not attainable with conventional pure optical imaging technologies. To perform photoacoustic molecular imaging, optically absorbing exogenous contrast agents are needed to enhance the signals from specifically targeted disease activity. In this work, we designed and developed folate receptor targeted, indocyanine green dye doped poly(d,l-lactide-co-glycolide) lipid nanoparticles (FA-ICG-PLGA-lipid NPs) for molecular photoacoustic imaging of tumor. The fabricated FA-ICG-PLGA-lipid NPs exhibited good aqueous stability, a high folate-receptor targeting efficiency, and remarkable optical absorption in near-infrared wavelengths, providing excellent photoacoustic signals in vitro. Furthermore, after intravenous administration of FA-ICG-PLGA-lipid NPs, mice bearing MCF-7 breast carcinomas showed significantly enhanced photoacoustic signals in vivo in the tumor regions, compared with those using non-targeted ICG-PLGA-lipid NPs. Given the existing wide clinical use of ICG and PLGA, the developed FA-ICG-PLGA-lipid NPs, in conjunction with photoacoustic imaging technology, offer a great potential to be translated into the clinic for non-ionizing molecular imaging of breast cancer in vivo.
The in vivo applications of gas-core microbubbles have been limited by gas diffusion, rapid body clearance, and poor vascular permeability. To overcome these limitations, using a modified three-step emulsion process, we have developed a first-of-its-kind India ink incorporated optically-triggerable phase-transition perfluorocarbon nanodroplets (INDs) that can provide not only three types of contrast mechanisms-conventional/thermoelastic photoacoustic, phase-transition/nonlinear photoacoustic, and ultrasound imaging contrasts, but also a new avenue for photoacoustic effect mediated tumor therapy. Upon pulsed laser illumination above a relatively low energy threshold, liquid-gas phase transition of the INDs has been demonstrated both in vitro and in vivo, offering excellent contrasts for photoacoustic and ultrasound dual-modality imaging. With further increased laser energy, the nanodroplets have been shown to be capable of destructing cancer cells in vivo, presumably due to the photoacoustic effect induced shock-wave generation from the carbon particles of the incorporated India ink. The demonstrated results suggest that the developed multifunctional phase-transition nanodroplets have a great potential for many theranostic biomedical applications, including photoacoustic/ultrasound dual-modality molecular imaging and targeted, localized cancer therapy.
Many diseases involve either the formation of new blood vessels (e.g., tumor angiogenesis) or the damage of existing ones (e.g., diabetic retinopathy) at the microcirculation level. Optical-resolution photoacoustic microscopy (OR-PAM), capable of imaging microvessels in 3D in vivo down to individual capillaries using endogenous contrast, has the potential to reveal microvascular information critical to the diagnosis and staging of microcirculation-related diseases. In this study, we have developed a dedicated microvascular quantification (MQ) algorithm for OR-PAM to automatically quantify multiple microvascular morphological parameters in parallel, including the vessel diameter distribution, the microvessel density, the vascular tortuosity, and the fractal dimension. The algorithm has been tested on in vivo OR-PAM images of a healthy mouse, demonstrating high accuracy for microvascular segmentation and quantification. The developed MQ algorithm for OR-PAM may greatly facilitate quantitative imaging of tumor angiogenesis and many other microcirculation related diseases in vivo.
Photoacoustic microscopy (PAM) is becoming a vital tool for various biomedical studies, including functional and molecular imaging of cancer. However, due to the use of a focused ultrasonic transducer for photoacoustic detection, the image quality of conventional PAM degrades rapidly away from the ultrasonic focal zone. To improve the image quality of PAM for out-of-focus regions, we have developed compressed sensing based virtual-detector photoacoustic microscopy (CS-PAM). Through phantom and in vivo experiments, it has been demonstrated that CS-PAM can effectively extend the depth of focus of PAM, and thus may greatly expand its potential biomedical applications.
Photoacoustic imaging is an emerging technology that can provide anatomic, functional, and molecular information about biological tissue. Intravascular spectroscopic and molecular photoacoustic imaging can potentially improve the identification of atherosclerotic plaque composition, the detection of inflammation, and ultimately the risk stratification of atherosclerosis. In this study, a first-of-its-kind intravascular optical-resolution photoacoustic tomography (OR-PAT) system with a 1.1 mm diameter catheter is developed, offering optical-diffraction limited transverse resolution as fine as 19.6 ?m, ? 10-fold finer than that of conventional intravascular photoacoustic and ultrasonic imaging. To offer complementary imaging information and depth, the system also acquires co-registered intravascular ultrasound images in parallel. Imaging of an iliac stent and a lipid phantom shows that the high resolution and contrast of OR-PAT can enable improved stent implantation guidance and lipid identification. In the future, these capabilities may ultimately improve the diagnosis and interventional treatment of vulnerable atherosclerotic plaques, which are prone to cause thrombotic complications such as myocardial infarction and stroke.
Cell plasma membranes can be transiently permeabilized to uptake exogenous molecules with high efficiency using a laser nanoparticle-based gene transfection technique. In combination with experimental results, a theoretical model is set up to calculate the temperature distribution and variance around the nanoparticles. This paper also provides a thorough discussion of the underlying mechanisms of cell permeabilization. We find that, rapid heating of the particles and the accompanying extreme temperature rise can lead to microbubble formation around laser-heated particles, which is the origin of photoacoustic effects and other nonlinear optical responses. This transient heat is also capable of causing protein denaturation through thermal inactivation and photochemistry. Furthermore, the dynamic mode that involves the overlapping of bubbles is presented. This mode can significantly increase the plasma membrane permeability of the cells without affecting their viability.
An inverse Monte Carlo based model has been developed to extract intrinsic fluorescence from turbid media. The goal of this work was to experimentally validate the model to extract intrinsic fluorescence of three biologically meaningful fluorophores related to metabolism from turbid media containing absorbers and scatterers. Experimental studies were first carried out on tissue-mimicking phantoms that contained individual fluorophores and their combinations, across multiple absorption, scattering, and fluorophore concentrations. The model was then tested in a murine tumor model to determine both the kinetics of fluorophore uptake as well as overall tissue fluorophore concentration through extraction of the intrinsic fluorescence of an exogenous contrast agent that reports on glucose uptake. Results show the model can be used to recover the true intrinsic fluorescence spectrum with high accuracy (R(2)=0.988) as well as accurately compute fluorophore concentration in both single and multiple fluorophores phantoms when appropriate calibration standards are available. In the murine tumor, the model-corrected intrinsic fluorescence could be used to differentiate drug dose injections between different groups. A strong linear correlation was observed between the extracted intrinsic fluorescence intensity and injected drug dose, compared with the distorted turbid tissue fluorescence.
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