Optical imaging stands for versatility, ease-of-use, fast experiments, high-throughput analysis and is compared to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or positron emission tomography (PET) relatively cheap – both from the instrumentation- and from the probe side. Available OI contrasts comprise fluorescence, phosphorescence, bio-luminescence, chemi-luminescence, and the only recently rediscovered Cerenkov-luminescence. While fluorescence studies can be performed with small molecules that are per-se fluorescent, bio-luminescence requires genetical engineering of the target tissue, however allows for versatile use of a simple enzyme-mediated contrast mechanism penetrating up to 1 cm deep into living tissue, depending on the used luciferase and substrate.

Figure 1

The versatility of both OI-contrast- mechanisms and agents is utilized in our laboratory for a variety of different study areas, covering totally different fields such as dynamic cell-tracking in tumor-model systems, temporal resolution of inflammatory events during rheumatoid arthritis (RA, Figure 1) or tumor-type specific monoclonal antibody specificity screenings employing Cerenkov luminescence and radioactively labels, that can be cross-correlated to PET-scans in the same animals (Figure 2). 

Figure 2