Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 400, Issue 9, pp 2687–2697

Non-linear fluorescence lifetime imaging of biological tissues


DOI: 10.1007/s00216-011-4896-4

Cite this article as:
Cicchi, R. & Saverio Pavone, F. Anal Bioanal Chem (2011) 400: 2687. doi:10.1007/s00216-011-4896-4


In recent years fluorescence microscopy has become a widely used tool for tissue imaging and spectroscopy. Optical techniques, based on both linear and non-linear excitation, have been broadly applied to imaging and characterization of biological tissues. Among fluorescence techniques used in tissue imaging applications, in recent years two and three-photon excited fluorescence have gained increased importance because of their high-resolution deep tissue imaging capability inside optically turbid samples. The main limitation of steady-state fluorescence imaging techniques consists in providing only morphological information; functional information is not detectable without technical improvements. A spectroscopic approach, based on lifetime measurement of tissue fluorescence, can provide functional information about tissue conditions, including its environment, red-ox state, and pH, and hence physiological characterization of the tissue under investigation. Measurement of the fluorescence lifetime is a very important issue for characterizing a biological tissue. Deviation of this property from a control value can be taken as an indicator of disorder and/or malignancy in diseased tissues. Even if much work on this topic has still to be done, including the interpretation of fluorescence lifetime data, we believe that this methodology will gain increasing importance in the field of biophotonics. In this paper, we review methodologies, potentials and results obtained by using fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy for the investigation of biological tissues.


Clinical/biomedical analysisFluorescence/luminescenceLaser spectroscopy



Three-photon excited fluorescence


Basal cell carcinoma


Carcinoma in situ


Fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy


Healthy mucosa


Two-photon excited fluorescence

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.European Laboratory for Non-linear Spectroscopy (LENS)University of FlorenceSesto FiorentinoItaly