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Annu Rev Biomed Eng. 2012;14:351-67. doi: 10.1146/annurev-bioeng-071811-150108. Epub 2012 May 15.

Optical imaging using endogenous contrast to assess metabolic state.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Engineering, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts 02155, USA.


Optical microscopic imaging offers opportunities to perform noninvasive assessments of numerous parameters associated with the biochemistry, morphology, and functional state of biological samples. For example, it is possible to detect the endogenous fluorescence from a small number of important biomolecules, including NADH and FAD, which are two coenzymes involved in key metabolic pathways such as glycolysis, the Krebs cycle, and oxidative phosphorylation. Here, we review different imaging approaches to isolate the fluorescence from these chromophores in two- and three-dimensional samples and discuss the origins and potential interpretation of the observed signals in terms of cell metabolic status. Finally, we discuss the challenges and limitations of these approaches, as well as important research directions that we expect will evolve in the near future.

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