Neurophotonics • Open AccessReview on photoacoustic imaging of the brain using nanoprobes
Photoacoustic (PA) tomography (PAT) is a hybrid imaging modality that integrates rich optical contrasts with a high-ultrasonic spatial resolution in deep tissue. Among various imaging applications, PA neuroimaging is becoming increasingly important as it nicely complements the limitations of conventional neuroimaging modalities, such as the low-temporal resolution in magnetic resonance imaging and the low depth-to-resolution ratio in optical microscopy/tomography. In addition, the intrinsic hemoglobin contrast PA neuroimaging has also been greatly improved by recent developments in nanoparticles (NPs). For instance, near-infrared absorbing NPs greatly enhanced the vascular contrast in deep-brain PAT; tumor-targeting NPs allowed highly sensitive and highly specific delineation of brain tumors; and multifunctional NPs enabled comprehensive examination of the brain through multimodal imaging. We aim to give an overview of NPs used in PA neuroimaging. Classifications of various NPs used in PAT will be introduced at the beginning, followed by an overview of PA neuroimaging systems, and finally we will discuss major applications of NPs in PA neuroimaging and highlight representative studies.