Multiphoton microscopy and fluorescence lifetime imaging provide a novel method in studying drug distribution and metabolism in the rat liver in vivo

Camilla A. Thorling, Yuri Dancik, Clinton W. Hupple, Gregory Medley, Xin Liu, Andrei V. Zvyagin, Tom A. Robertson, Frank J. Burczynski, Michael S. Roberts

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Multiphoton microscopy has been shown to be a useful tool in studying drug distribution in biological tissues. In addition, fluorescence lifetime imaging provides information about the structure and dynamics of fluorophores based on their fluorescence lifetimes. Fluorescein, a commonly used fluorescent probe, is metabolized within liver cells to fluorescein mono-glucuronide, which is also fluorescent. Fluorescein and its glucuronide have similar excitation and emission spectra, but different fluorescence lifetimes. In this study, we employed multiphoton fluorescence lifetime imaging to study the distribution and metabolism of fluorescein and its metabolite in vivo in rat liver. Fluorescence lifetime values in vitro were used to interpret in vivo data. Our results show that the mean fluorescence lifetimes of fluorescein and its metabolite decrease over time after injection of fluorescein in three different regions of the liver. In conclusion, we have demonstrated a novel method to study a fluorescent compound and metabolite in vivo using multiphoton fluorescence lifetime imaging.

Original languageEnglish
Article number086013
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biomedical Optics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011



  • multiphoton microscopy
  • fluorescence lifetime imaging
  • fluorescein
  • fluorescein mono-glucuronide
  • liver
  • metabolism

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