Melanoma is a malignant tumor of melanocytes. Melanoma cells have high light absorption due to melanin highly contained in melanoma cells. This property is employed for the detection of circulating melanoma cell by in vivo photoacoustic flow cytometry (PAFC), which is based on photoacoustic effect. Compared to in vivo flow cytometry based on fluorescence, PAFC can employ high melanin content of melanoma cells as endogenous biomarkers to detect circulating melanoma cells in vivo. We have developed in vitro experiments to prove the ability of PAFC system of detecting photoacoustic signals from melanoma cells. For in vivo experiments, we have constructed a model of melanoma tumor bearing mice by inoculating highly metastatic murine melanoma cancer cells, B16F10 with subcutaneous injection. PA signals are detected in the blood vessels of mouse ears in vivo. The raw signal detected from target cells often contains some noise caused by electronic devices, such as background noise and thermal noise. We choose the Wavelet denoising method to effectively distinguish the target signal from background noise. Processing in time domain and frequency domain would be combined to analyze the signal after denoising. This algorithm contains time domain filter and frequency transformation. The frequency spectrum image of the signal contains distinctive features that can be used to analyze the property of target cells or particles. The processing methods have a great potential for analyzing signals accurately and rapidly. By counting circulating melanoma cells termly, we obtain the number variation of circulating melanoma cells as melanoma metastasized. Those results show that PAFC is a noninvasive and label-free method to detect melanoma metastases in blood or lymph circulation.
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