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Published May 2016 | Published
Journal Article Open

In vivo photoacoustic microscopy of human cuticle microvasculature with single-cell resolution


As a window on the microcirculation, human cuticle capillaries provide rich information about the microvasculature, such as its morphology, density, dimensions, or even blood flow speed. Many imaging technologies have been employed to image human cuticle microvasculature. However, almost none of these techniques can noninvasively observe the process of oxygen release from single red blood cells (RBCs), an observation which can be used to study healthy tissue functionalities or to diagnose, stage, or monitor diseases. For the first time, we adapted single-cell resolution photoacoustic (PA) microscopy (PA flowoxigraphy) to image cuticle capillaries and quantified multiple functional parameters. Our results show more oxygen release in the curved cuticle tip region than in other regions of a cuticle capillary loop, associated with a low of RBC flow speed in the tip region. Further analysis suggests that in addition to the RBC flow speed, other factors, such as the drop of the partial oxygen pressure in the tip region, drive RBCs to release more oxygen in the tip region.

Additional Information

© 2016 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers. Paper 150877R received Jan. 1, 2016; accepted for publication Apr. 19, 2016; published online May 18, 2016. This work was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health Grant Nos. DP1 EB016986 (NIH Director's Pioneer Award), R01 CA186567 (NIH Director's Transformative Research Award), and R01 CA159959. L. V. Wang has a financial interest in Microphotoacoustics, Inc., which, however, did not support this work. The authors want to specially thank Chenghung Yeh for suggestions on image processing, and all the volunteers who participated in this study.

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