Non-linear optical microscopy sheds light on cardiovascular disease.
Caorsi V., Toepfer C., Sikkel MB., Lyon AR., MacLeod K., Ferenczi MA.
Many cardiac diseases have been associated with increased fibrosis and changes in the organization of fibrillar collagen. The degree of fibrosis is routinely analyzed with invasive histological and immunohistochemical methods, giving a limited and qualitative understanding of the tissue's morphological adaptation to disease. Our aim is to quantitatively evaluate the increase in fibrosis by three-dimensional imaging of the collagen network in the myocardium using the non-linear optical microscopy techniques Two-Photon Excitation microscopy (TPE) and Second Harmonic signal Generation (SHG). No sample staining is needed because numerous endogenous fluorophores are excited by a two-photon mechanism and highly non-centrosymmetric structures such as collagen generate strong second harmonic signals. We propose for the first time a 3D quantitative analysis to carefully evaluate the increased fibrosis in tissue from a rat model of heart failure post myocardial infarction. We show how to measure changes in fibrosis from the backward SHG (B(SHG)) alone, as only backward-propagating SHG is accessible for true in vivo applications. A 5-fold increase in collagen I fibrosis is detected in the remote surviving myocardium measured 20 weeks after infarction. The spatial distribution is also shown to change markedly, providing insight into the morphology of disease progression.