Current label-free metabolic microscopy techniques are limited to obtaining contrast from fluorescent molecules NAD(P)H and FAD+, and are unable to determine redox state along the mitochondrial respiratory chain itself. The respiratory chain electron carriers do not fluoresce, but some are heme proteins that have redox-dependent absorption spectra. The most prominent of these, cytochrome c, has been extensively characterized by transient absorption spectroscopy, which suggests that pump-probe measurements in the vicinity of 450 - 600 nm can provide strong contrast between its redox states. Motivated by the success of pump-probe microscopy targeting another heme protein, hemoglobin, we seek to extend the technique to the cytochromes, with the ultimate goal of dissecting respiratory chain function of individual cells in live tissue. To that end, we have developed a new optical system producing ultrafast, visible, independently-tunable pulse pairs via sum-frequency generation of nonlinearly broadened pulses in periodically-poled lithium niobate. The system is pumped by a homebuilt fiber-based oscillator/amplifier emitting 1060 nm pulses at 1.3 W (63 MHz repetition rate), and produces tunable pulses in the vicinity of 488 and 532 nm. Pump-probe spectroscopy of cytochrome c with this source reveals differences in excited-state absorption relaxation times between redox states. Though redox contrast is weak with this setup, we argue that this can be improved with a resonant galvo-scanning microscope. Moreover, pump-probe images were acquired of brown adipose tissue (which contains dense mitochondria), demonstrating label-free contrast from excited-state absorption in respiratory chain hemes.
Scott R. Domingue, Adam J. Chicco, Randy A. Bartels, and Jesse W. Wilson, "Pump-probe microscopy of respiratory chain pigments: towards non-fluorescent label-free metabolic imaging," Proc. SPIE 10069, Multiphoton Microscopy in the Biomedical Sciences XVII, 100691P (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 31, 2017; Published: 21 February 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2253378.
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