In vivo analysis of THz wave irradiation induced acute inflammatory response in skin by laser-scanning confocal microscopy

Opt Express. 2014 May 19;22(10):11465-75. doi: 10.1364/OE.22.011465.


The recent development of THz sources in a wide range of THz frequencies and power levels has led to greatly increased interest in potential biomedical applications such as cancer and burn wound diagnosis. However, despite its importance in realizing THz wave based applications, our knowledge of how THz wave irradiation can affect a live tissue at the cellular level is very limited. In this study, an acute inflammatory response caused by pulsed THz wave irradiation on the skin of a live mouse was analyzed at the cellular level using intravital laser-scanning confocal microscopy. Pulsed THz wave (2.7 THz, 4 μs pulsewidth, 61.4 μJ per pulse, 3Hz repetition), generated using compact FEL, was used to irradiate an anesthetized mouse's ear skin with an average power of 260 mW/cm(2) for 30 minutes using a high-precision focused THz wave irradiation setup. In contrast to in vitro analysis using cultured cells at similar power levels of CW THz wave irradiation, no temperature change at the surface of the ear skin was observed when skin was examined with an IR camera. To monitor any potential inflammatory response, resident neutrophils in the same area of ear skin were repeatedly visualized before and after THz wave irradiation using a custom-built laser-scanning confocal microscopy system optimized for in vivo visualization. While non-irradiated control skin area showed no changes in the number of resident neutrophils, a massive recruitment of newly infiltrated neutrophils was observed in the THz wave irradiated skin area after 6 hours, which suggests an induction of acute inflammatory response by the pulsed THz wave irradiation on the skin via a non-thermal process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Equipment Design
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Confocal / instrumentation*
  • Radiation Injuries, Experimental / pathology*
  • Radiodermatitis / pathology*
  • Skin / pathology*
  • Skin / radiation effects
  • Terahertz Radiation / adverse effects*