Spectral characterization and unmixing of intrinsic contrast in intact normal and diseased gastric tissues using hyperspectral two-photon microscopy
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Background: Living tissues contain a range of intrinsic fluorophores and sources of second harmonic generation which provide contrast that can be exploited for fresh tissue imaging. Microscopic imaging of fresh tissue samples can circumvent the cost and time associated with conventional histology. Further, intrinsic contrast can provide rich information about a tissue's composition, structure and function, and opens the potential for in-vivo imaging without the need for contrast agents. Methodology/Principal Findings: In this study, we used hyperspectral two-photon microscopy to explore the characteristics of both normal and diseased gastrointestinal (GI) tissues, relying only on their endogenous fluorescence and second harmonic generation to provide contrast. We obtained hyperspectral data at subcellular resolution by acquiring images over a range of two-photon excitation wavelengths, and found excitation spectral signatures of specific tissue types based on our ability to clearly visualize morphology. We present the two-photon excitation spectral properties of four major tissue types that are present throughout the GI tract: epithelium, lamina propria, collagen, and lymphatic tissue. Using these four excitation signatures as basis spectra, linear unmixing strategies were applied to hyperspectral data sets of both normal and neoplastic tissue acquired in the colon and small intestine. Our results show that hyperspectral unmixing with excitation spectra allows segmentation, showing promise for blind identification of tissue types within a field of view, analogous to specific staining in conventional histology. The intrinsic spectral signatures of these tissue types provide information relating to their biochemical composition. Conclusions/Significance: These results suggest hyperspectral two-photon microscopy could provide an alternative to conventional histology either for in-situ imaging, or intraoperative 'instant histology' of fresh tissue biopsies. © 2011 Grosberg et al.