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Opt Lett. 2004 Sep 1;29(17):2031-3.

Second-harmonic microscopy of unstained living cardiac myocytes: measurements of sarcomere length with 20-nm accuracy.

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Laboratory for Optics and Biosciences, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique-Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, Ecole Polytechnique, 91128 Palaiseau, France.


We extend second-harmonic generation (SHG) microscopy to the measurement of sarcomere length in unstained living cardiac myocytes with 20-nm accuracy. We quantify individual sarcomere shortening in the presence of saxitoxin and find that it is in agreement with mechanical measurements of atrial tissue contracture. This functional application of SHG microscopy is generally applicable to quantify the physiological effects of drugs on contractile tissue. Our data also suggest that packed myosin heads in sarcomere thick filaments are responsible for the large second-harmonic endogenous signal in muscle tissue.

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