Living Cell Functions and Morphology Revealed by Two-Photon Microscopy in Intact Neural and Secretory Organs

Mol Cells. 2008 Aug 31;26(2):113-20. Epub 2008 Jun 26.


Laser light microscopy enables observation of various simultaneously occurring events in living cells. This capability is important for monitoring the spatiotemporal patterns of the molecular interactions underlying such events. Two-photon excited fluorescence microscopy (two-photon microscopy), a technology based on multiphoton excitation, is one of the most promising candidates for such imaging. The advantages of two-photon microscopy have spurred wider adoption of the method, especially in neurological studies. Multicolor excitation capability, one advantage of two-photon microscopy, has enabled the quantification of spatiotemporal patterns of [Ca(2+)](i) and single episodes of fusion pore openings during exocytosis. In pancreatic acinar cells, we have successfully demonstrated the existence of "sequential compound exocytosis" for the first time, a process which has subsequently been identified in a wide variety of secretory cells including exocrine, endocrine and blood cells. Our newly developed method, the two-photon extracellular polar-tracer imaging-based quantification (TEPIQ) method, can be used for determining fusion pores and the diameters of vesicles smaller than the diffraction-limited resolution. Furthermore, two-photon microscopy has the demonstrated capability of obtaining cross-sectional images from deep layers within nearly intact tissue samples over long observation times with excellent spatial resolution. Recently, we have successfully observed a neuron located deeper than 0.9 mm from the brain cortex surface in an anesthetized mouse. This microscopy also enables the monitoring of long-term changes in neural or glial cells in a living mouse. This minireview describes both the current and anticipated capabilities of two-photon microscopy, based on a discussion of previous publications and recently obtained data.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Exocytosis / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence, Multiphoton / methods*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Neurons / ultrastructure
  • Pancreas, Exocrine / physiology*
  • Synaptosomal-Associated Protein 25 / physiology


  • Synaptosomal-Associated Protein 25