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Nat Med. 2010 Dec;16(12):1444-9. doi: 10.1038/nm.2260. Epub 2010 Nov 14.

Noninvasive multiphoton fluorescence microscopy resolves retinol and retinal condensation products in mouse eyes.

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Polgenix, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.


Multiphoton excitation fluorescence microscopy (MPM) can image certain molecular processes in vivo. In the eye, fluorescent retinyl esters in subcellular structures called retinosomes mediate regeneration of the visual chromophore, 11-cis-retinal, by the visual cycle. But harmful fluorescent condensation products of retinoids also occur in the retina. We report that in wild-type mice, excitation with a wavelength of ∼730 nm identified retinosomes in the retinal pigment epithelium, and excitation with a wavelength of ∼910 nm revealed at least one additional retinal fluorophore. The latter fluorescence was absent in eyes of genetically modified mice lacking a functional visual cycle, but accentuated in eyes of older wild-type mice and mice with defective clearance of all-trans-retinal, an intermediate in the visual cycle. MPM, a noninvasive imaging modality that facilitates concurrent monitoring of retinosomes along with potentially harmful products in aging eyes, has the potential to detect early molecular changes due to age-related macular degeneration and other defects in retinoid metabolism.

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