In vivo multiphoton NADH fluorescence reveals depth-dependent keratinocyte metabolism in human skin

Biophys J. 2013 Jan 8;104(1):258-67. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2012.11.3809. Epub 2013 Jan 8.


We employ a clinical multiphoton microscope to monitor in vivo and noninvasively the changes in reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) fluorescence of human epidermal cells during arterial occlusion. We correlate these results with measurements of tissue oxy- and deoxyhemoglobin concentration during oxygen deprivation using spatial frequency domain imaging. During arterial occlusion, a decrease in oxyhemoglobin corresponds to an increase in NADH fluorescence in the basal epidermal cells, implying a reduction in basal cell oxidative phosphorylation. The ischemia-induced oxygen deprivation is associated with a strong increase in NADH fluorescence of keratinocytes in layers close to the stratum basale, whereas keratinocytes from epidermal layers closer to the skin surface are not affected. Spatial frequency domain imaging optical property measurements, combined with a multilayer Monte Carlo-based radiative transport model of multiphoton microscopy signal collection in skin, establish that localized tissue optical property changes during occlusion do not impact the observed NADH signal increase. This outcome supports the hypothesis that the vascular contribution to the basal layer oxygen supply is significant and these cells engage in oxidative metabolism. Keratinocytes in the more superficial stratum granulosum are either supplied by atmospheric oxygen or are functionally anaerobic. Based on combined hemodynamic and two-photon excited fluorescence data, the oxygen consumption rate in the stratum basale is estimated to be ∼0.035 μmoles/10(6) cells/h.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Absorption
  • Fluorescence
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes / cytology
  • Keratinocytes / metabolism*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence, Multiphoton / methods*
  • Models, Biological
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • NAD / metabolism*
  • Skin / cytology*
  • Time Factors


  • Hemoglobins
  • NAD
  • deoxyhemoglobin