Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a promising research tool for brain imaging and developmental biology. Serving as a three-dimensional optical biopsy technique, OCT provides volumetric reconstruction of brain tissues and embryonic structures with micrometer resolution and video rate imaging speed. Functional OCT enables label-free monitoring of hemodynamic and metabolic changes in the brain in vitro and in vivo in animal models. Due to its non-invasiveness nature, OCT enables longitudinal imaging of developing specimens in vivo without potential damage from surgical operation, tissue fixation and processing, and staining with exogenous contrast agents. In this paper, various OCT applications in brain imaging and developmental biology are reviewed, with a particular focus on imaging heart development. In addition, we report findings on the effects of a circadian gene (Clock) and high-fat-diet on heart development in Drosophila melanogaster. These findings contribute to our understanding of the fundamental mechanisms connecting circadian genes and obesity to heart development and cardiac diseases.
Keywords: Biological systems; Biomedical optical imaging; Brain; Cardiovascular system and Optical tomography.