Preclinical small animal imaging platform providing co-registered 3D maps of photoacoustic response and fluorescence
We report on the development of a preclinical 3D imaging platform integrating photoacoustic tomography and fluorescence (PAFT). The proposed multimodal imaging concept addresses known deficiencies in sensitivity, anatomical registration, and spatial resolution of the individual imaging modalities. Multi-view photoacoustic and optical projections of the studied animal are utilized to reconstruct large (27 cm3) volumes showing vascular network and blood-rich tissues, as well as regions with induced optical/fluorescence contrast with 3D resolution exceeding 150 μm. An additional 532-nm low-energy pulsed laser excitation is implemented as a separate imaging channel for registration over skin topography and superficial vasculature. PAFT technology enables functional and molecular volumetric imaging using wide range of fluorescent and luminescent biomarkers, nanoparticles, and other photosensitive constructs mapped with high fidelity over robust anatomical structures of the studied animal model. We demonstrated the PAFT performance using phantoms and by in vivo imaging of preclinical murine models.