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Trends Cell Biol. 1999 Feb;9(2):66-9.

Imaging living cells and tissues by two-photon excitation microscopy.

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Dept of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37212, USA.


Two-photon excitation microscopy provides attractive advantages over confocal microscopy for three-dimensionally resolved fluorescence imaging. Since two-photon excitation occurs only at the focal point of the microscope, it inherently provides three-dimensional resolution. This localization of excitation also minimizes photobleaching and photodamage, which are the ultimate limiting factors in imaging living cells. Furthermore, no pinhole is required to attain three-dimensional discrimination, so the efficiency of fluorescence collection is increased. These advantages allow experiments on thick living samples that would not be possible with other imaging techniques. The cost and complexity of the lasers required for two-photon excitation microscopy have limited its use, but appropriate turn-key lasers have now been introduced, and their cost should decrease. Finally, the recent introduction of commercial two-photon excitation laser-scanning microscope systems allows a much larger group of researchers access to this state-of-the-art methodology.

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