Imaging small animal whole-body dynamics by single-impulse panoramic photoacoustic computed tomography
Small animal whole-body imaging, providing physiological, pathological, and phenotypical insights into biological processes, is indispensable in preclinical research. With high spatiotemporal resolution and functional contrast, small animal imaging can visualize biological dynamics in vivo at whole-body scale, which can advance both fundamental biology and translational medicine. However, current non-optical imaging techniques lack either spatiotemporal resolution or functional contrasts, and pure optical imaging suffers from either shallow penetration (up to ∼1 mm) or a poor resolution-to-depth ratio (∼1/3). Here, we present a standalone system, termed single-impulse panoramic photoacoustic computed tomography (SIP-PACT), which overcomes all the above limitations. Our technology, with unprecedented performance, is envisioned to complement existing modalities for imaging entire small animals. As an optical imaging modality, SIP-PACT captures the high molecular contrast of endogenous substances such as hemoglobin, melanin, and lipid, as well as exogenous biomarkers, at the whole animal scale with full-view fidelity. Unlike other optical imaging methods, SIP-PACT sees through ∼5 cm of tissue in vivo, and acquires cross-sectional images with an in-plane resolution of ∼100 μm. Such capabilities allow us to image, for the first time, mouse wholebody dynamics in real time with clear sub-organ anatomical and functional details and without motion artifacts. SIPPACT can capture transients of whole-body oxygen saturation and pulse wave propagation in vivo without labeling. In sum, we expect widespread applications of SIP-PACT as a whole-body imaging tool for small animals in fundamental biology, pharmacology, pathology, oncology, and other areas.