Hyperspectral multiphoton microscopy for in vivo visualization of multiple, spectrally overlapped fluorescent labels

Optica. 2020 Nov 20;7(11):1587-1601. doi: 10.1364/optica.389982.


The insensitivity of multiphoton microscopy to optical scattering enables high-resolution, high-contrast imaging deep into tissue, including in live animals. Scattering does, however, severely limit the use of spectral dispersion techniques to improve spectral resolution. In practice, this limited spectral resolution together with the need for multiple excitation wavelengths to excite different fluorophores limits multiphoton microscopy to imaging a few, spectrally-distinct fluorescent labels at a time, restricting the complexity of biological processes that can be studied. Here, we demonstrate a hyperspectral multiphoton microscope that utilizes three different wavelength excitation sources together with multiplexed fluorescence emission detection using angle-tuned bandpass filters. This microscope maintains scattering insensitivity, while providing high enough spectral resolution on the emitted fluorescence and capitalizing on the wavelength-dependent nonlinear excitation of fluorescent dyes to enable clean separation of multiple, spectrally overlapping labels, in vivo. We demonstrated the utility of this instrument for spectral separation of closely-overlapped fluorophores in samples containing ten different colors of fluorescent beads, live cells expressing up to seven different fluorescent protein fusion constructs, and in multiple in vivo preparations in mouse cortex and inflamed skin with up to eight different cell types or tissue structures distinguished.