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Label-free imaging of atherosclerotic plaques using third-harmonic generation microscopy

David M. Small, Jason S. Jones, Irwin I. Tendler, Paul E. Miller, Andre Ghetti, and Nozomi Nishimura

Biomedical Optics Express (2018)

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Multiphoton microscopy using laser sources in the mid-infrared range (MIR, 1,300 nm and 1,700 nm) was used to image atherosclerotic plaques from murine and human samples. Third harmonic generation (THG) from atherosclerotic plaques revealed morphological details of cellular and extracellular lipid deposits. Simultaneous nonlinear optical signals from the same laser source, including second harmonic generation and endogenous fluorescence, resulted in label-free images of various layers within the diseased vessel wall. The THG signal adds an endogenous contrast mechanism with a practical degree of specificity for atherosclerotic plaques that complements current nonlinear optical methods for the investigation of cardiovascular disease. Our use of whole-mount tissue and backward scattered epi-detection suggests THG could potentially be used in the future as a clinical tool.

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