The light attenuation in biological tissues, caused by scattering and absorption, is a main issue in deep imaging. While the signal from the focal volume in multiphoton imaging is mostly generated by ballistic photons, both ballistic and scattered fluorescence photons contribute to the detected signal. The impact of emission wavelengths on deep imaging has not been investigated experimentally before. Here we perform a systematic comparison of the fluorescence attenuation in tissue at the emission wavelengths of 520 nm, 615 nm and 711 nm in three-photon imaging of mouse brain vasculature in vivo. Our results show that the impact of the emission wavelengths on multiphoton imaging depth is small compared to the excitation wavelengths.
The attenuation of excitation power reaching the focus is the main issue that limits the depth penetration of highresolution imaging of biological tissue. The attenuation is caused by a combination of tissue scattering and absorption. Theoretical model of the effective attenuation length for in vivo mouse brain imaging has been built based on the data of the absorption of water and blood and the Mie scattering of a tissue-like phantom. Such a theoretical model has been corroborated at a number of excitation wavelengths, such as 800 nm, 1300 nm , and 1700 nm ; however, the attenuation caused by absorption is negligible when compared to tissue scattering at all these wavelength windows. Here we performed in vivo three-photon imaging of Texas Red-stained vasculature in the same mouse brain with different excitation wavelengths, 1700 nm, 1550 nm, 1500 nm and 1450 nm. In particular, our studies include the wavelength regime where strong water absorption is present (i.e., 1450 nm), and the attenuation by water absorption is predicted to be the dominant contribution in the excitation attenuation. Based on the experimental results, we found that the effective attenuation length at 1450 nm is significantly shorter than those at 1700 nm and 1300 nm. Our results confirm that the theoretical model based on tissue scattering and water absorption is accurate in predicting the effective attenuation lengths for in vivo imaging. The optimum excitation wavelength windows for in vivo mouse brain imaging are at 1300 nm and 1700 nm.
We demonstrate three-photon microscopy (3PM) of mouse cerebellum at 1 mm depth by imaging both blood vessels and neurons. We compared 3PM and 2PM in the mouse cerebellum for imaging green (using excitation sources at 1300 nm and 920 nm, respectively) and red fluorescence (using excitation sources at 1680 nm and 1064 nm, respectively). 3PM enabled deeper imaging than 2PM because the use of longer excitation wavelength reduces the scattering in biological tissue and the higher order nonlinear excitation provides better 3D localization. To illustrate these two advantages quantitatively, we measured the signal decay as well as the signal-to-background ratio (SBR) as a function of depth. We performed 2-photon imaging from the brain surface all the way down to the area where the SBR reaches ~ 1, while at the same depth, 3PM still has SBR above 30. The segmented decay curve shows that the mouse cerebellum has different effective attenuation lengths at different depths, indicating heterogeneous tissue property for this brain region. We compared the third harmonic generation (THG) signal, which is used to visualize myelinated fibers, with the decay curve. We found that the regions with shorter effective attenuation lengths correspond to the regions with more fibers. Our results indicate that the widespread, non-uniformly distributed myelinated fibers adds heterogeneity to mouse cerebellum, which poses additional challenges in deep imaging of this brain region.
Proc. SPIE. 10069, Multiphoton Microscopy in the Biomedical Sciences XVII
KEYWORDS: Signal to noise ratio, Surface plasmons, Multiphoton microscopy, Signal attenuation, Microscopy, Luminescence, Calcium, Functional imaging, In vivo imaging, Deep tissue imaging, Neuroimaging, Neurons, Brain imaging, Brain
We demonstrate that three-photon microscopy (3PM) with 1300-nm excitation enables functional imaging of GCaMP6s labeled neurons beyond the depth limit of two-photon microscopy (2PM) with 920-nm excitation. We quantitatively compared 2PM and 3PM imaging of calcium indicator GCaMP6s by measuring correlation between activity traces, absolute signal level, excitation attenuation with depth, and signal-to-background ratio (SBR). Compared to 2PM imaging of GCaMP6s-labeled neurons, 3PM imaging has increasingly larger advantages in signal strength and SBR as the imaging depth increases in densely labeled mouse brain, given the same pulse energy, pulse width, and repetition rate at the sample surface. For example, 3PM has comparable signal strength as 2PM and up to two orders of magnitude higher SBR as 2PM in mouse cortex around 700-800um. We also demonstrate 3PM activity recording of 150 neurons in the hippocampal stratum pyramidale (SP) at 1mm depth, which is inaccessible to non-invasive 2PM imaging. Our work establishes 3PM as a powerful tool for calcium imaging at the depth beyond 2PM limits.
Multiphoton fluorescence microscopy is a well-established technique for deep-tissue imaging with subcellular resolution. Three-photon microscopy (3PM) when combined with long wavelength excitation was shown to allow deeper imaging than two-photon microscopy (2PM) in biological tissues, such as mouse brain, because out-of-focus background light can be further reduced due to the higher order nonlinear excitation. As was demonstrated in 2PM systems, imaging depth and resolution can be improved by aberration correction using adaptive optics (AO) techniques which are based on shaping the scanning beam using a spatial light modulator (SLM). In this way, it is possible to compensate for tissue low order aberration and to some extent, to compensate for tissue scattering. Here, we present a 3PM AO microscopy system for brain imaging. Soliton self-frequency shift is used to create a femtosecond source at 1675 nm and a microelectromechanical (MEMS) SLM serves as the wavefront shaping device. We perturb the 1020 segment SLM using a modified nonlinear version of three-point phase shifting interferometry. The nonlinearity of the fluorescence signal used for feedback ensures that the signal is increasing when the spot size decreases, allowing compensation of phase errors in an iterative optimization process without direct phase measurement. We compare the performance for different orders of nonlinear feedback, showing an exponential growth in signal improvement as the nonlinear order increases. We demonstrate the impact of the method by applying the 3PM AO system for in-vivo mouse brain imaging, showing improvement in signal at 1-mm depth inside the brain.