Three-dimensional fluorescence recovery after photobleaching with the confocal scanning laser microscope

Biophys J. 2003 Oct;85(4):2240-52. doi: 10.1016/S0006-3495(03)74649-9.


Confocal scanning laser microscopes (CSLMs) are equipped with the feature to photobleach user-defined regions. This makes them a handy tool to perform fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) measurements. To allow quantification of such FRAP experiments, a three-dimensional model has been developed that describes the fluorescence recovery process for a disk-shaped geometry that is photobleached by the scanning beam of a CSLM. First the general mathematical basis is outlined describing the bleaching process for an arbitrary geometry bleached by a scanning laser beam. Next, these general expressions are applied to the bleaching by a CSLM of a disk-shaped geometry and an analytical solution is derived that describes three-dimensional fluorescence recovery in the bleached area as observed by the CSLM. The FRAP model is validated through both the Stokes-Einstein relation and the comparison of the measured diffusion coefficients with their theoretical estimates. Finally, the FRAP model is used to characterize the transport of FITC-dextrans through bulk three-dimensional biological materials: vitreous body isolated from bovine eyes, and lung sputum expectorated by cystic fibrosis patients. The decrease in the diffusion coefficient relative to its value in solution was dependent on the size of the FITC-dextrans in vitreous, whereas it was size-independent in cystic fibrosis sputum.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Cattle
  • Cystic Fibrosis / metabolism
  • Dextrans / chemistry
  • Dextrans / metabolism
  • Diffusion
  • Fluorescence Recovery After Photobleaching / methods*
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Microscopy, Confocal / methods*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Models, Chemical*
  • Motion
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sputum / chemistry
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Vitreous Body / chemistry
  • Vitreous Body / metabolism


  • Dextrans