Indocyanine green dye based bimodal contrast agent tested by photoacoustic/fluorescence tomography setup
Multimodal imaging systems are in high demand for preclinical research, experimental medicine, and clinical practice. Combinations of photoacoustic technology with other modalities including fluorescence, ultrasound, MRI, OCT have been already applied in feasibility studies. Nevertheless, only the combination of photoacoustics with ultrasound in a single setup is commercially available now. A combination of photoacoustics and fluorescence is another compelling approach because those two modalities naturally complement each other. Here, we presented a bimodal contrast agent based on the indocyanine green dye (ICG) as a single signalling compound embedded in the biocompatible and biodegradable polymer shell. We demonstrate its remarkable characteristics by imaging using a commercial photoacoustic/fluorescence tomography system (TriTom, PhotoSound Technologies). It was shown that photoacoustic signal of the particles depends on the amount of dye loaded into the shell, while fluorescence signal depends on the total amount of dye per particle. For the first time to our knowledge, a commercial bimodal photoacoustic/fluorescence setup was used for characterization of ICG doped polymer particles. Additionally, we conducted cell toxicity studies for these particles as well as studied biodistribution over time in vivo and ex vivo using fluorescent imaging. The obtained results suggest a potential for the application of biocompatible and biodegradable bimodal contrast agents as well as the integrated photoacoustic/fluorescence imaging system for preclinical and clinical studies.