The establishment of multiplex photoacoustic molecular imaging to characterize heterogeneous tissues requires the use of a tunable, thermally stable contrast agent targeted to specific cell types. We have developed a multiplex photoacoustic imaging technique which uses targeted silica-coated gold nanorods to distinguish cell inclusions in vitro. This paper describes the use of tunable targeted silica-coated gold nanorods (SiO(2)-AuNRs) as contrast agents for photoacoustic molecular imaging. SiO(2)-AuNRs with peak absorption wavelengths of 780 nm and 830 nm were targeted to cells expressing different cell receptors. Cells were incubated with the targeted SiO(2)-AuNRs, incorporated in a tissue phantom, and imaged using multiwavelength photoacoustic imaging. We used photoacoustic imaging and statistical correlation analysis to distinguish between the unique cell inclusions within the tissue phantom.
Keywords: (110.5125) Photoacoustics; (160.1050) Acousto-optical materials; (160.4236); (170.0110) Imaging systems; (170.5120) Photoacoustic imaging; (170.6935) Tissue characterization.