Functional photoacoustic microscopy of pH
pH is a tightly regulated indicator of metabolic activity. In mammalian systems, imbalance of pH regulation may result from or result in serious illness. Even though the regulation system of pH is very robust, tissue pH can be altered in many diseases such as cancer, osteoporosis and diabetes mellitus. Traditional high-resolution optical imaging techniques, such as confocal microscopy, routinely image pH in cells and tissues using pH sensitive fluorescent dyes, which change their fluorescence properties with the surrounding pH. Since strong optical scattering in biological tissue blurs images at greater depths, high-resolution pH imaging is limited to penetration depths of 1mm. Here, we report photoacoustic microscopy (PAM) of commercially available pH-sensitive fluorescent dye in tissue phantoms. Using both opticalresolution photoacoustic microscopy (OR-PAM), and acoustic resolution photoacoustic microscopy (AR-PAM), we explored the possibility of recovering the pH values in tissue phantoms. In this paper, we demonstrate that PAM was capable of recovering pH values up to a depth of 2 mm, greater than possible with other forms of optical microscopy. © 2012 SPIE.