Multifunctional in vivo vascular imaging using near-infrared II fluorescence

Nat Med. 2012 Dec;18(12):1841-6. doi: 10.1038/nm.2995. Epub 2012 Nov 18.


In vivo real-time epifluorescence imaging of mouse hind limb vasculatures in the second near-infrared region (NIR-II) is performed using single-walled carbon nanotubes as fluorophores. Both high spatial (∼30 μm) and temporal (<200 ms per frame) resolution for small-vessel imaging are achieved at 1-3 mm deep in the hind limb owing to the beneficial NIR-II optical window that affords deep anatomical penetration and low scattering. This spatial resolution is unattainable by traditional NIR imaging (NIR-I) or microscopic computed tomography, and the temporal resolution far exceeds scanning microscopic imaging techniques. Arterial and venous vessels are unambiguously differentiated using a dynamic contrast-enhanced NIR-II imaging technique on the basis of their distinct hemodynamics. Further, the deep tissue penetration and high spatial and temporal resolution of NIR-II imaging allow for precise quantifications of blood velocity in both normal and ischemic femoral arteries, which are beyond the capabilities of ultrasonography at lower blood velocities.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Flow Velocity / physiology
  • Blood Vessels / ultrastructure*
  • Hemodynamics
  • Hindlimb / blood supply*
  • Infrared Rays
  • Mice
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / chemistry
  • Optical Imaging / methods*
  • Principal Component Analysis


  • Nanotubes, Carbon