In vivo photoacoustic neuronal imaging of odor-evoked calcium signals in the drosophila brain
Neural scientists can benefit greatly from imaging tools that can penetrate thick brain tissue. Compared with traditional optical microscopy methods, photoacoustic imaging can beat the optical diffusion limit and achieve such deep tissue imaging with high spatial resolution. In this study, we used an optical-resolution photoacoustic microscope to image the odor-evoked neuronal activities in a drosophila model. Drosophila brain neurons stably express GCaMP5G, a calcium-sensitive fluorescent protein whose optical absorption coefficient changes with calcium influx during action potentials. We recorded an ~20% odor-evoked fractional photoacoustic signal increase at all depths of the drosophila brain in vivo, with and without removal of the brain cuticle, at a recording rate of 1 kHz. Our results were confirmed by concurrent fluorescent recordings. Furthermore, by performing fast 2D scanning, we imaged the antenna lobe region, which is of particular interest in neuroscience, at a volumetric rate of ~1 Hz with a sub-neuron resolution of 3 m. Unlike optical imaging, which requires surgical removal of the scattering brain cuticle, our photoacoustic system can image through the cuticle and measure neuronal signals of the whole drosophila brain without invasive surgery, enabling minimal disturbance to the animal's behaviors. In conclusion, we have demonstrated photoacoustic imaging of calcium signals in drosophila brains for the first time. Utilizing the deep imaging capability of photoacoustic tomography, our methods could potentially be extended to in vivo imaging of neuronal activities from deep brains in other animal models.