The multiparametric molecular cell and tissue analysis in vitro and in vivo is characterized by rapid progress in the field of image generation technologies, sensor biotechnology, and computational modeling. Fascinating new potentials in unraveling the detailed functions of single cells, organs, and whole organisms are presently emerging and permit the close monitoring i.e. tumor development or basic cell development processes with an unprecedented multiplicity of promising investigative possibilities. To answer basic questions of in vivo tumor development and progression fluorescence based imaging techniques provide new insights into molecular pathways and targets. Genetic reporter systems (eGFP, DsRED) are available and high sensitive detection systems are on hand. These techniques could be used for in vitro assays and quantified e.g. by microscopy and CCD based readouts. The introduction of novel fluorescent dyes emitting in the near infrared range (NIR) combined with the development of sensitive detector systems and monochromatic powerful NIR-lasers for the first time permits the quantification and imaging of fluorescence and/or bioluminescence in deeper tissues. Laser based techniques particularly in the NIR-range (like two-photon microscopy) offer superb signal to noise ratios, and thus the potential to detect molecular targets in vivo. In combination with flat panel volumetric computed tomography (fpVCT), questions dealing e.g. with tumor size, tumor growth, and angiogenesis/vascularization could be answered noninvasively using the same animal. The resolution of down to 150 microm/each direction can be achieved using fpVCT. It is demonstrated by many groups that submillimeter resolutions can be achieved in small animal imaging at high sensitivity and molecular specificity. Since the resolution in preclinical small animal imaging is down to approximately 10 microm by the use of microCT and to subcellular resolutions using ( approximately 1 microm) microscope based systems, the advances of different techniques can now be combined to "multimodal" preclinical imaging and the possibilities for in vivo intravital cytometry now become within one's reach.
Copyright 2007 International Society for Analytical Cytology.