Fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy for the characterization of atherosclerotic plaques
Atherosclerotic plaque composition has been associated with plaque instability and rupture. This study investigates the use of fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) for mapping plaque composition and assessing features of vulnerability. Measurements were conducted in atherosclerotic human aortic samples using an endoscopic FLIM system (spatial resolution of 35 µm; temporal resolution 200 ps) developed in our lab which allows mapping in one measurement the composition within a volume of 4 mm diameter x 250 µm depth. Each pixel in the image represents a corresponding fluorescence lifetime value; images are formed through a flexible 0.6 mm side-viewing imaging bundle which allows for further intravascular applications. Based on previously recorded spectra of human atherosclerotic plaque, fluorescence emission was collected through two filters: f1: 377/50 and f2: 460/60 (center wavelength/bandwidth), which together provides the greatest discrimination between intrinsic fluorophores related to plaque vulnerability. We have imaged nine aortas and lifetime images were retrieved using a Laguerre expansion deconvolution technique and correlated with histopathology. Early results demonstrate discrimination using fluorescence lifetime between early, lipid-rich, and collagen-rich lesions which are consistent with previously reported time-resolved atherosclerotic plaque measurements.
This paper was published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7161