Journal of Biomedical OpticsHigh-resolution multiphoton tomography of human skin with subcellular spatial resolution and picosecond time resolution
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High-resolution four-dimensional (4-D) optical tomography of human skin based on multiphoton autofluorescence imaging and second harmonic generation (SHG) was performed with the compact femtosecond laser imaging system DermaInspect as well as a modified multiphoton microscope. Femtosecond laser pulses of 80 MHz in the spectral range of 750 to 850 nm, fast galvoscan mirrors, and a time-correlated single-photon counting module have been used to image human skin in vitro and in vivo with subcellular spatial and 250-ps temporal resolution. The nonlinear induced autofluorescence originates from naturally endogenous fluorophores and protein structures such as reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate, flavins, collagen, elastin, porphyrins, and melanin. Second harmonic generation was used to detect collagen structures. Tissues of patients with dermatological disorders such as psoriasis, fungal infections, nevi, and melanomas have been investigated. Individual intratissue cells and skin structures could be clearly visualized. Intracellular components and connective tissue structures could be further characterized by fluorescence excitation spectra, by determination of the fluorescence decay per pixel, and by fluorescence lifetime imaging. The novel noninvasive multiphoton autofluorescence-SHG imaging technique provides 4-D (x,y,z,τ) optical biopsies with subcellular resolution and offers the possibility of introducing a high-resolution optical diagnostic method in dermatology.