Looking and listening to light: the evolution of whole-body photonic imaging

Nat Biotechnol. 2005 Mar;23(3):313-20. doi: 10.1038/nbt1074.


Optical imaging of live animals has grown into an important tool in biomedical research as advances in photonic technology and reporter strategies have led to widespread exploration of biological processes in vivo. Although much attention has been paid to microscopy, macroscopic imaging has allowed small-animal imaging with larger fields of view (from several millimeters to several centimeters depending on implementation). Photographic methods have been the mainstay for fluorescence and bioluminescence macroscopy in whole animals, but emphasis is shifting to photonic methods that use tomographic principles to noninvasively image optical contrast at depths of several millimeters to centimeters with high sensitivity and sub-millimeter to millimeter resolution. Recent theoretical and instrumentation advances allow the use of large data sets and multiple projections and offer practical systems for quantitative, three-dimensional whole-body images. For photonic imaging to fully realize its potential, however, further progress will be needed in refining optical inversion methods and data acquisition techniques.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / trends
  • Luminescent Measurements / methods*
  • Luminescent Measurements / trends
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / trends
  • Photons*
  • Tomography, Optical / methods*
  • Tomography, Optical / trends
  • Ultrasonography / methods*
  • Ultrasonography / trends