Novel flashlamp based time-resolved fluorescence microscope reduces autofluorescence for 30-fold contrast enhancement in environmental samples

Russell Connally*, Duncan Veal, James Piper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The abundance of naturally fluorescing components (autofluorophors) encountered in environmentally sourced samples can greatly hinder the detection and identification of fluorescently labeled target using fluorescence microscopy. Time-resolved fluorescence microscopy (TRFM) is a technique that reduces the effects of autofluorescence through precisely controlled time delays. Lanthanide chelates have fluorescence lifetimes many orders of magnitude greater than typical autofluorophors, and persist in their luminescence long after autofluorescence has ceased. An intense short pulse of (UV) light is used to excite fluorescence in the sample and after a short delay period the longer persisting fluorescence from the chelate is captured with an image-intensified CCD camera. The choice of pulsed excitation source for TRFM has a large impact on the price and performance of the instrument. A flashlamp with a short pulse duration was selected for our instrument because of the high spectral energy in the UV region and short pulse length. However, flash output decays with an approximate lifetime of 18μs and the TRFM requires a long-lived chelate to ensure probe fluorescence is still visible after decay of the flash plasma. We synthesized a recently reported fluorescent chelate (BHHCT) and conjugated it to a monoclonal antibody directed against the water-borne parasite Giardia lamblia. Fluorescence lifetime of the construct was determined to be 339μs ± 14μs and provided a 45-fold enhancement of labeled Giardia over background using a gate delay of 100μs. Despite the sub-optimal decay characteristics of the light pulse, flashlamps have many advantages compared to optical chopper wheels and modulated lasers. Their low cost, lack of vibration, ease of interface and small footprint are important factors to consider in TRFM design.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-23
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
Volume4964
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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