Optical imaging of voltage and calcium in cardiac cells & tissues

Circ Res. 2012 Feb 17;110(4):609-23. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.111.247494.


Cardiac optical mapping has proven to be a powerful technology for studying cardiovascular function and disease. The development and scientific impact of this methodology are well-documented. Because of its relevance in cardiac research, this imaging technology advances at a rapid pace. Here, we review technological and scientific developments during the past several years and look toward the future. First, we explore key components of a modern optical mapping set-up, focusing on: (1) new camera technologies; (2) powerful light-emitting-diodes (from ultraviolet to red) for illumination; (3) improved optical filter technology; (4) new synthetic and optogenetic fluorescent probes; (5) optical mapping with motion and contraction; (6) new multiparametric optical mapping techniques; and (7) photon scattering effects in thick tissue preparations. We then look at recent optical mapping studies in single cells, cardiomyocyte monolayers, atria, and whole hearts. Finally, we briefly look into the possible future roles of optical mapping in the development of regenerative cardiac research, cardiac cell therapies, and molecular genetic advances.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Calcium Signaling*
  • Equipment Design
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemistry
  • Heart Conduction System / metabolism*
  • Heart Conduction System / physiopathology
  • Heart Diseases / diagnosis
  • Heart Diseases / metabolism*
  • Heart Diseases / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Myocardium / metabolism*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / metabolism
  • Time Factors
  • Voltage-Sensitive Dye Imaging* / instrumentation
  • Voltage-Sensitive Dye Imaging* / methods
  • Voltage-Sensitive Dye Imaging* / trends


  • Fluorescent Dyes