Transit time is a fundamental microcirculatory parameter that is critical in determining oxygen delivery from capillaries to surrounding tissue. Recently, it was demonstrated theoretically that capillary transit-time heterogeneity potentially leads to non-uniform oxygen extraction in micro-domains. However, in spite of its importance, capillary transit-time distribution has been challenging to quantify comprehensively and efficiently at the microscopic level. Here, we introduce a method, called Dynamic Contrast Optical Coherence Tomography (DyC-OCT), based on dynamic cross-sectional OCT imaging of the kinetics of an intravascular tracer during its passage through the field-of-view. DyC-OCT is used to quantitatively measure the transit-time distribution in microvascular networks in cross-section at the single-capillary level. Transit-time metrics are derived from analysis of the temporal characteristics of the dynamic scattering signal, related to tracer concentration, using indicator-dilution theory. Since DyC-OCT does not require calibration of the optical focus, quantitative accuracy is achieved even deep in highly scattering brain tissue where the focal spot degrades. After direct validation of DyC-OCT against the dilution curves measured using a fluorescent plasma label in the surface pial vessels of a mouse brain, imaged through a thinned-skull, glass coverslip-reinforced cranial window, the laminar transit-time distribution was investigated in microvasculature across the entire depth of the mouse somatosensory cortex. Laminar trends were identified, with the earliest transit times in the middle cortical layers, and the lowest heterogeneity in cortical layer 4. The new DyC-OCT technique affords a novel perspective of microvascular networks, with the unique capability of performing simultaneous measurements of transit-time distributions across cortical laminae.
Conrad W. Merkle and Vivek J. Srinivasan, "Dynamic contrast optical coherence tomography: quantitative measurement of microvascular transit-time distributions in vivo
(Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 9697, Optical Coherence Tomography and Coherence Domain Optical Methods in Biomedicine XX, 96970G (Presented at SPIE BiOS: February 15, 2016; Published: 26 April 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2214799.4848328232001.
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