In vivo three-photon microscopy of subcortical structures within an intact mouse brain

Nat Photonics. 2013 Mar 1;7(3):205-209. doi: 10.1038/nphoton.2012.336.


Two-photon fluorescence microscopy (2PM)1 enables scientists in various fields including neuroscience2,3, embryology4, and oncology5 to visualize in vivo and ex vivo tissue morphology and physiology at a cellular level deep within scattering tissue. However, tissue scattering limits the maximum imaging depth of 2PM within the mouse brain to the cortical layer, and imaging subcortical structures currently requires the removal of overlying brain tissue3 or the insertion of optical probes6,7. Here we demonstrate non-invasive, high resolution, in vivo imaging of subcortical structures within an intact mouse brain using three-photon fluorescence microscopy (3PM) at a spectral excitation window of 1,700 nm. Vascular structures as well as red fluorescent protein (RFP)-labeled neurons within the mouse hippocampus are imaged. The combination of the long excitation wavelength and the higher order nonlinear excitation overcomes the limitations of 2PM, enabling biological investigations to take place at greater depth within tissue.