Photoacoustic lymphatic imaging with high spatial-temporal resolution.
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Despite its critical function in coordinating the egress of inflammatory and immune cells out of tissues and maintaining fluid balance, the causative role of lymphatic network dysfunction in pathological settings is still understudied. Engineered-animal models and better noninvasive high spatial-temporal resolution imaging techniques in both preclinical and clinical studies will help to improve our understanding of different lymphatic-related pathologic disorders. Our aim was to take advantage of our newly optimized noninvasive wide-field fast-scanning photoacoustic (PA) microcopy system to coordinately image the lymphatic vasculature and its flow dynamics, while maintaining high resolution and detection sensitivity. Here, by combining the optical-resolution PA microscopy with a fast-scanning water-immersible microelectromechanical system scanning mirror, we have imaged the lymph dynamics over a large field-of-view, with high spatial resolution and advanced detection sensitivity. Depending on the application, lymphatic vessels (LV) were spectrally or temporally differentiated from blood vessels. Validation experiments were performed on phantoms and in vivo to identify the LV. Lymphatic flow dynamics in nonpathological and pathological conditions were also visualized. These results indicate that our newly developed PA microscopy is a promising tool for lymphatic-related biological research.