Cerenkov radiation is a phenomenon where optical photons are emitted when a charged particle moves faster than the speed of light for the medium in which it travels. Recently, we and others have discovered that measurable visible light due to the Cerenkov effect is produced in vivo following the administration of β-emitting radionuclides to small animals. Furthermore, the amounts of injected activity required to produce a detectable signal are consistent with small-animal molecular imaging applications. This surprising observation has led to the development of a new hybrid molecular imaging modality known as Cerenkov luminescence imaging (CLI), which allows the spatial distribution of biomolecules labelled with β-emitting radionuclides to be imaged in vivo using sensitive charge-coupled device cameras. We review the physics of Cerenkov radiation as it relates to molecular imaging, present simulation results for light intensity and spatial distribution, and show an example of CLI in a mouse cancer model. CLI allows many common radiotracers to be imaged in widely available in vivo optical imaging systems, and, more importantly, provides a pathway for directly imaging β−-emitting radionuclides that are being developed for therapeutic applications in cancer and that are not readily imaged by existing methods.
Cerenkov radiation; optical imaging; molecular imaging
Cerenkov radiation is a well-known phenomenon, in which optical photons are emitted by charged particles moving faster than the speed of light in a medium. We have observed Cerenkov photons emitted from beta-emitting radiotracers such as 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose using a sensitive CCD camera. Phantom and in vivo mouse imaging experiments have demonstrated that surface measurements of the emitted Cerenkov optical photons could be used to reconstruct the radiotracer activity distribution inside an object by modeling the optical photon propagation with the diffusion equation and reconstructing the optical emission source distribution iteratively with a preconditioned conjugate gradient method (PCG). This is analogous to methods used for bioluminescence tomography. We refer to this as Cerenkov luminescence tomography (CLT), allowing the biodistribution of diagnostic and therapeutic beta-emitting radiolabeled agents to be imaged by detection and reconstruction of the optical Cerenkov signal.
Cerenkov luminescence imaging (CLI) is a cost-effective molecular imaging tool for biomedical applications of radiotracers. The introduction of Cerenkov luminescence tomography (CLT) relative to planar CLI can be compared to the development of X-ray CT based on radiography. With CLT, quantitative and localized analysis of a radiopharmaceutical distribution becomes feasible. In this contribution, a feasibility study of in vivo radiopharmaceutical imaging in heterogeneous medium is presented. Coupled with a multimodal in vivo imaging system, this CLT reconstruction method allows precise anatomical registration of the positron probe in heterogeneous tissues and facilitates the more widespread application of radiotracers. Source distribution inside the small animal is obtained from CLT reconstruction. The experimental results demonstrated that CLT can be employed as an available in vivo tomographic imaging of charged particle emitters in a heterogeneous medium.
Imaging the location and extent of cancer provides invaluable information before, during, and after surgery. The majority of “image-guided” methods that use, for example, positron emission tomography (PET) involve preoperative imaging and do not provide real-time information during surgery. It is now well established that the inherent optical emissions (Cerenkov radiation) from various β-emitting radionuclides can be visualized by Cerenkov luminescence imaging (CLI). Here we report the full characterization of CLI using the positron-emitting radiotracer 89Zr-DFO-trastuzumab for target-specific, quantitative imaging of HER2/neu-positive tumors in vivo. We also provide the first demonstration of the feasibility of using CLI for true image-guided, intraoperative surgical resection of tumors. Analysis of optical CLIs provided accurate, quantitative information on radiotracer biodistribution and tissue uptake that correlated well with the concordant PET images. CLI, PET, and biodistribution studies revealed target-specific uptake of 89Zr-DFO-trastuzumab in BT-474 (HER2/neu positive) versus MDA-MB-468 (HER2/neu negative) xenografts in the same mice. Competitive inhibition (blocking) studies followed by CLI also confirmed the in vivo immunoreactivity and specificity of 89Zr-DFO-trastuzumab for HER2/neu. Overall, these results strongly support the continued development of CLI as a preclinical and possible clinical tool for use in molecular imaging and surgical procedures for accurately defining tumor margins.
Positron emission tomography (PET) allows sensitive, non-invasive analysis of the distribution of radiopharmaceutical tracers labeled with positron (β+)-emitting radionuclides in small animals and humans. Upon β+ decay, the initial velocity of high-energy β+ particles can momentarily exceed the speed of light in tissue, producing Cerenkov radiation that is detectable by optical imaging, but is highly absorbed in living organisms.
To improve optical imaging of Cerenkov radiation in biological systems, we demonstrate that Cerenkov radiation from decay of the PET isotopes 64Cu and 18F can be spectrally coupled by energy transfer to high Stokes-shift quantum nanoparticles (Qtracker705) to produce highly red-shifted photonic emissions. Efficient energy transfer was not detected with 99mTc, a predominantly γ-emitting isotope. Similar to bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET) and fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET), herein we define the Cerenkov radiation energy transfer (CRET) ratio as the normalized quotient of light detected within a spectral window centered on the fluorophore emission divided by light detected within a spectral window of the Cerenkov radiation emission to quantify imaging signals. Optical images of solutions containing Qtracker705 nanoparticles and [18F]FDG showed CRET ratios in vitro as high as 8.8±1.1, while images of mice with subcutaneous pseudotumors impregnated with Qtracker705 following intravenous injection of [18F]FDG showed CRET ratios in vivo as high as 3.5±0.3.
Quantitative CRET imaging may afford a variety of novel optical imaging applications and activation strategies for PET radiopharmaceuticals and other isotopes in biomaterials, tissues and live animals.
The development of novel multimodality imaging agents and techniques represents the current frontier of research in the field of medical imaging science. However, the combination of nuclear tomography with optical techniques has yet to be established. Here, we report the use of the inherent optical emissions from the decay of radiopharmaceuticals for Cerenkov luminescence imaging (CLI) of tumors in vivo and correlate the results with those obtained from concordant immuno-PET studies.
In vitro phantom studies were used to validate the visible light emission observed from a range of radionuclides including the positron emitters 18F, 64Cu, 89Zr, and 124I; β-emitter 131I; and α-particle emitter 225Ac for potential use in CLI. The novel radiolabeled monoclonal antibody 89Zr-desferrioxamine B-[DFO-J591 for immuno-PET of prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) expression was used to coregister and correlate the CLI signal observed with the immuno-PET images and biodistribution studies.
Phantom studies confirmed that Cerenkov radiation can be observed from a range of positron-,β-, and α-emitting radionuclides using standard optical imaging devices. The change in light emission intensity versus time was concordant with radionuclide decay and was also found to correlate linearly with both the activity concentration and the measured PET signal (percentage injected dose per gram). In vivo studies conducted in male severe combined immune deficient mice bearing PSMA-positive, subcutaneous LNCaP tumors demonstrated that tumor-specific uptake of 89Zr-DFO-J591 could be visualized by both immuno-PET and CLI. Optical and immuno-PET signal intensities were found to increase over time from 24 to 96 h, and biodistribution studies were found to correlate well with both imaging modalities.
These studies represent the first, to our knowledge, quantitative assessment of CLI for measuring radiotracer uptake in vivo. Many radionuclides common to both nuclear tomographic imaging and radiotherapy have the potential to be used in CLI. The value of CLI lies in its ability to image radionuclides that do not emit either positrons or γ-rays and are, thus, unsuitable for use with current nuclear imaging modalities. Optical imaging of Cerenkov radiation emission shows excellent promise as a potential new imaging modality for the rapid, high-throughput screening of radiopharmaceuticals
Imaging technology; Cerenkov; PET; optical imaging; 89Zr; 124I; 131I; 64Cu; 225Ac; 18F; radioimmunoconjugate; prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA); J591; monoclonal antibodies
We demonstrate feasibility of endoscopic imaging of Cerenkov light originated when charged nuclear particles, emitted from radionuclides, travel through a biological tissue of living subjects at superluminal velocity. The endoscopy imaging system consists of conventional optical fiber bundle/ clinical endoscopes, an optical imaging lens system, and a sensitive low-noise charge coupled device (CCD) camera. Our systematic studies using phantom samples show that Cerenkov light from as low as 1 µCi of radioactivity emitted from 18F-Fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) can be coupled and transmitted through conventional optical fibers and endoscopes. In vivo imaging experiments with tumor bearing mice, intravenously administered with 18F-FDG, further demonstrated that Cerenkov luminescence endoscopy is a promising new tool in the field of endoscopic molecular imaging.
(170.2150) Endoscopic imaging; (170.0110) Imaging systems; (170.4580) Optical diagnostics for medicine
Radiotracers labeled with high-energy positron-emitters, such as those commonly used for positron emission tomography (PET) studies, emit visible light immediately following decay in a medium. This phenomenon, not previously described for these imaging tracers, is consistent with Cerenkov radiation and has several potential applications, especially for in vivo molecular imaging studies. Herein we detail a new molecular imaging tool, Cerenkov Luminescence Imaging, the experiments conducted that support our interpretation of the source of the signal, and proof-of-concept in vivo studies that set the foundation for future application of this new method.
Recent observation of optical luminescence due to beta decay from suitable radiotracers has led to the possible development of new preclinical optical imaging methods. The generation of photons that can be detected using instrumentation optimized for bioluminescence imaging has been putatively associated with the Cerenkov effect. We describe the simultaneous utilization of fluorescence reporters to convert the Cerenkov luminescence to longer wavelengths for better tissue penetration and also for modulating the luminescence spectrum for potential molecular imaging strategies.
Cerenkov luminescence tomography (CLT) provides the three-dimensional (3D) radiopharmaceutical biodistribution in small living animals, which is vital to biomedical imaging. However, existing single-spectral and multispectral methods are not very efficient and effective at reconstructing the distribution of the radionuclide tracer. In this paper, we present a semi-quantitative Cerenkov radiation spectral characteristic-based source reconstruction method named the hybrid spectral CLT, to efficiently reconstruct the radionuclide tracer with both encouraging reconstruction results and less acquisition and image reconstruction time.
We constructed the implantation mouse model implanted with a 400 µCi Na131I radioactive source and the physiological mouse model received an intravenous tail injection of 400 µCi radiopharmaceutical Iodine-131 (I-131) to validate the performance of the hybrid spectral CLT and compared the reconstruction results, acquisition, and image reconstruction time with that of single-spectral and multispectral CLT. Furthermore, we performed 3D noninvasive monitoring of I-131 uptake in the thyroid and quantified I-131 uptake in vivo using hybrid spectral CLT. Results showed that the reconstruction based on the hybrid spectral CLT was more accurate in localization and quantification than using single-spectral CLT, and was more efficient in the in vivo experiment compared with multispectral CLT. Additionally, 3D visualization of longitudinal observations suggested that the reconstructed energy of I-131 uptake in the thyroid increased with acquisition time and there was a robust correlation between the reconstructed energy versus the gamma ray counts of I-131 (). The ex vivo biodistribution experiment further confirmed the I-131 uptake in the thyroid for hybrid spectral CLT.
Results indicated that hybrid spectral CLT could be potentially used for thyroid imaging to evaluate its function and monitor its treatment for thyroid cancer.
There has been recent and growing interest in applying Cerenkov radiation (CR) for biological applications. Knowledge of the production efficiency and other characteristics of the CR produced by various radionuclides would help in accessing the feasibility of proposed applications and guide the choice of radionuclides. To generate this information we developed models of CR production efficiency based on the Frank-Tamm equation and models of CR distribution based on Monte-Carlo simulations of photon and β particle transport. All models were validated against direct measurements using multiple radionuclides and then applied to a number of radionuclides commonly used in biomedical applications. We show that two radionuclides, Ac-225 and In-111, which have been reported to produce CR in water, do not in fact produce CR directly. We also propose a simple means of using this information to calibrate high sensitivity luminescence imaging systems and show evidence suggesting that this calibration may be more accurate than methods in routine current use.
We describe the synthesis and development of new reactive DOTA-metal complexes for covalently targeting engineered receptors in vivo, which have superior tumor uptake and clearance properties for biomedical applications. These probes are found to clear efficiently through the kidneys and minimally through other routes, but bind persistently in the tumor target. We also explore the new technique of Cerenkov luminescence imaging to optically monitor radiolabeled probe distribution and kinetics in vivo. Cerenkov luminescence imaging uniquely enables sensitive noninvasive in vivo imaging of a β− emitter such as 90Y with an optical imager.
All living organisms emit spontaneous low-level bioluminescence, which can be increased in response to stress. Methods for imaging this ultra-weak luminescence have previously been limited by the sensitivity of the detection systems used.
We developed a novel configuration of a cooled charge-coupled device (CCD) for 2-dimensional imaging of light emission from biological material. In this study, we imaged photon emission from plant leaves. The equipment allowed short integration times for image acquisition, providing high resolution spatial and temporal information on bioluminescence. We were able to carry out time course imaging of both delayed chlorophyll fluorescence from whole leaves, and of low level wound-induced luminescence that we showed to be localised to sites of tissue damage. We found that wound-induced luminescence was chlorophyll-dependent and was enhanced at higher temperatures.
The data gathered on plant bioluminescence illustrate that the equipment described here represents an improvement in 2-dimensional luminescence imaging technology. Using this system, we identify chlorophyll as the origin of wound-induced luminescence from leaves.
It has been observed that microfluidic chips used for synthesizing 18F-labeled compounds demonstrate visible light emission without nearby scintillators or fluorescent materials. The origin of the light was investigated and found to be consistent with the emission characteristics from Cerenkov radiation. Since 18F decays through the emission of high-energy positrons, the energy threshold for beta particles, i.e., electrons or positrons, to generate Cerenkov radiation was calculated for water and polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), the most commonly used polymer-based material for microfluidic chips. Beta particles emitted from 18F have a continuous energy spectrum, with a maximum energy that exceeds this energy threshold for both water and PDMS. In addition, the spectral characteristics of the emitted light from 18F in distilled water were also measured, yielding a broad distribution from 300 nm to 700 nm, with higher intensity at shorter wavelengths. A photograph of the 18F solution showed a bluish-white light emitted from the solution, further suggesting Cerenkov radiation.
In this study, the feasibility of using this Cerenkov light emission as a method for quantitative measurements of the radioactivity within the microfluidic chip in situ was evaluated. A detector previously developed for imaging microfluidic platforms was used. The detector consisted of a charge coupled device (CCD) optically coupled to a lens. The system spatial resolution, minimum detectable activity and dynamic range were evaluated. In addition, a calibration of Cerenkov signal versus activity concentration in the microfluidic chip was determined. This novel method of Cerenkov radiation measurements will provide researchers with a simple yet robust quantitative imaging tool for microfluidic applications utilizing beta particles.
The use of fluorescent proteins has revolutionized our understanding of biological processes. However, the requirement for external illumination precludes their universal application to the study of biological processes in all tissues. Although light can be created by chemiluminescence, light emission from existing chemiluminescent probes is too weak to use this imaging modality in situations when fluorescence cannot be used. Here we report the development of the brightest luminescent protein to date, Nano-lantern, which is a chimera of enhanced Renilla luciferase and Venus, a fluorescent protein with high bioluminescence resonance energy transfer efficiency. Nano-lantern allows real-time imaging of intracellular structures in living cells with spatial resolution equivalent to fluorescence and sensitive tumour detection in freely moving unshaved mice. We also create functional indicators based on Nano-lantern that can image Ca2+, cyclic adenosine monophosphate and adenosine 5′-triphosphate dynamics in environments where the use of fluorescent indicators is not feasible. These luminescent proteins allow visualization of biological phenomena at previously unseen single-cell, organ and whole-body level in animals and plants.
Luminescent proteins are important tools for biomedical imaging but tend to emit fairly little light. Saito et al.. describe a brighter version of a bioluminescent protein that can visualize intracellular dynamics of various signalling molecules with high spatial and temporal resolution.
Bioluminescence is widespread among many different types of marine organisms. Metazoans contain two types of luminescence production, bacteriogenic (symbiotic with bacteria) or autogenic, via the production of a luminous secretion or the intrinsic properties of luminous cells. Several species in two families of squids, the Loliginidae and the Sepiolidae (Mollusca: Cephalopoda) harbor bacteriogenic light organs that are found central in the mantle cavity. These light organs are exceptional in function, that is, the morphology and the complexity suggests that the organ has evolved to enhance and direct light emission from bacteria that are harbored inside. Although light organs are widespread among taxa within the Sepiolidae, the origin and development of this important feature is not well studied. We compared light organ morphology from several closely related taxa within the Sepiolidae and combined molecular phylogenetic data using four loci (nuclear ribosomal 28S rRNA and the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I and 12S and 16S rRNA) to determine whether this character was an ancestral trait repeatedly lost among both families or whether it evolved independently as an adaptation to the pelagic and benthic lifestyles. By comparing other closely related extant taxa that do not contain symbiotic light organs, we hypothesized that the ancestral state of sepiolid light organs most likely evolved from part of a separate accessory gland open to the environment that allowed colonization of bacteria to occur and further specialize in the eventual development of the modern light organ.
X-ray Luminescence CT (XLCT) is a hybrid imaging modality combining x-ray and optical imaging in which x-ray luminescent nanophosphors (NPs) are used as emissive imaging probes. NPs are easily excited using common CT energy x-ray beams, and the NP luminescence is efficiently collected using sensitive light based detection systems. XLCT can be recognized as a close analog to fluorescence diffuse optical tomography (FDOT). However, XLCT has remarkable advantages over FDOT due to the substantial excitation penetration depths provided by x-rays relative to laser light sources, long term photo-stability of NPs, and the ability to tune NP emission within the NIR spectral window. Since XCLT uses an x-ray pencil beam excitation, the emitted light can be measured and back-projected along the x-ray path during reconstruction, where the size of the X-ray pencil beam determines the resolution for XLCT. In addition, no background signal competes with NP luminescence (i.e., no auto fluorescence) in XLCT. Currently, no small animal XLCT system has been proposed or tested. This paper investigates an XLCT system built and integrated with a dual source micro-CT system. Two novel sampling paradigms that result in more efficient scanning are proposed and tested via simulations. Our preliminary experimental results in phantoms indicate that a basic CT-like reconstruction is able to recover a map of the NP locations and differences in NP concentrations. With the proposed dual source system and faster scanning approaches, XLCT has the potential to revolutionize molecular imaging in preclinical studies.
Micro-CT; dual energy; small animal imaging; nanophosphor
The effects of catabolite repression and nutrient abundance on the activities of Vibrio harveyi enzymes known to be related to aldehyde metabolism were investigated. The growth of cells in complex medium containing glucose, which decreases in vivo luminescence and luciferase synthesis, also resulted in decreases in the specific activities of V. harveyi aldehyde dehydrogenase and acyl carrier protein acyltransferase as well as in the degree of fatty acylation of three bioluminescence-specific polypeptides (32, 42, and 57 kilodaltons), as monitored by sodium dodecyl sulfatepolyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. This repression was partially alleviated in glucose medium containing cyclic AMP. The acylation of the above-mentioned proteins, in addition to light emission and luciferase and acyltransferase activities, was also repressed when cells were grown in minimal medium, with partial recovery of these functions upon the addition of arginine. In contrast, aldehyde dehydrogenase activity was increased in minimal medium. These results suggest that the 42-, 57-, and 32-kilodalton proteins, which are responsible for the supply and reduction of fatty acids to form aldehydes for the luciferase reaction, are regulated in the same way as luciferase under the above-described conditions. However, aldehyde dehydrogenase, whose role in V. harveyi aldehyde metabolism is not yet known, is regulated in a different way with respect to nutrient composition.
Bioluminescence tomography (BLT) is a new optical molecular imaging modality, which can monitor both physiological and pathological processes by using bioluminescent light-emitting probes in small living animal. Especially, this technology possesses great potential in drug development, early detection, and therapy monitoring in preclinical settings. In the present study, we developed a dual modality BLT prototype system with Micro-computed tomography (MicroCT) registration approach, and improved the quantitative reconstruction algorithm based on adaptive hp finite element method (hp-FEM). Detailed comparisons of source reconstruction between the heterogeneous and homogeneous mouse models were performed. The models include mice with implanted luminescence source and tumor-bearing mice with firefly luciferase report gene. Our data suggest that the reconstruction based on heterogeneous mouse model is more accurate in localization and quantification than the homogeneous mouse model with appropriate optical parameters and that BLT allows super-early tumor detection in vivo based on tomographic reconstruction of heterogeneous mouse model signal.
Bacterial bioluminescence is very sensitive to cerulenin, a fungal antibiotic which is known to inhibit fatty acid synthesis. When Vibrio harveyi cells pretreated with cerulenin were incubated with [3H]myristic acid in vivo, acylation of the 57-kilodalton reductase subunit of the luminescence-specific fatty acid reductase complex was specifically inhibited. In contrast, in vitro acylation of both the synthetase and transferase subunits, as well as the activities of luciferase, transferase, and aldehyde dehydrogenase, were not adversely affected by cerulenin. Light emission of wild-type V. harveyi was 20-fold less sensitive to cerulenin at low concentrations (10 micrograms/ml) than that of the dark mutant strain M17, which requires exogenous myristic acid for luminescence because of a defective transferase subunit. The sensitivity of myristic acid-stimulated luminescence in the mutant strain M17 exceeded that of phospholipid synthesis from [14C]acetate, whereas uptake and incorporation of exogenous [14C]myristic acid into phospholipids was increased by cerulenin. The reductase subunit could be labeled by incubating M17 cells with [3H]tetrahydrocerulenin; this labeling was prevented by preincubation with either unlabeled cerulenin or myristic acid. Labeling of the reductase subunit with [3H]tetrahydrocerulenin was also noted in an aldehyde-stimulated mutant (A16) but not in wild-type cells or in another aldehyde-stimulated mutant (M42) in which [3H]myristoyl turnover at the reductase subunit was found to be defective. These results indicate that (i) cerulenin specifically and covalently inhibits the reductase component of aldehyde synthesis, (ii) this enzyme is partially protected from cerulenin inhibition in the wild-type strain in vivo, and (iii) two dark mutants which exhibit similar luminescence phenotypes (mutants A16 and M42) are blocked at different stages of fatty acid reduction.
Strong autofluorescence from living tissues, and the scattering and absorption of short-wavelength light in living tissues, significantly reduce sensitivity of in vivo fluorescence imaging. These issues can tackled by using imaging probes that emit in the near-infrared (NIR) wavelength range. Here we describe self-luminescing NIR-emitting nanoparticles employing an energy transfer relay that integrates bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET) and fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET), enabling in vivo NIR imaging without external light excitation. Nanoparticles were 30-40 nm in diameter, contained no toxic metals, exhibited long circulation time and high serum stability, and produced strong NIR emission. Using these nanoparticles, we successfully imaged lymphatic networks and vasculature of xenografted tumors in living mice. The self-luminescing feature provided excellent tumor-to-background ratio (>100) for imaging very small tumors (2-3 mm in diameter). Our results demonstrate that these new nanoparticles are well suited to in vivo imaging applications such as lymph node mapping and cancer imaging.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis, still represents a major public health threat in many countries. Bioluminescence, the production of light by luciferase-catalyzed reactions, is a versatile reporter technology with multiple applications both in vitro and in vivo. In vivo bioluminescence imaging (BLI) represents one of its most outstanding uses by allowing the non-invasive localization of luciferase-expressing cells within a live animal. Despite the extensive use of luminescent reporters in mycobacteria, the resultant luminescent strains have not been fully applied to BLI.
One of the main obstacles to the use of bioluminescence for in vivo imaging is the achievement of reporter protein expression levels high enough to obtain a signal that can be detected externally. Therefore, as a first step in the application of this technology to the study of mycobacterial infection in vivo, we have optimised the use of firefly, Gaussia and bacterial luciferases in mycobacteria using a combination of vectors, promoters, and codon-optimised genes. We report for the first time the functional expression of the whole bacterial lux operon in Mycobacterium tuberculosis and M. smegmatis thus allowing the development of auto-luminescent mycobacteria. We demonstrate that the Gaussia luciferase is secreted from bacterial cells and that this secretion does not require a signal sequence. Finally we prove that the signal produced by recombinant mycobacteria expressing either the firefly or bacterial luciferases can be non-invasively detected in the lungs of infected mice by bioluminescence imaging.
While much work remains to be done, the finding that both firefly and bacterial luciferases can be detected non-invasively in live mice is an important first step to using these reporters to study the pathogenesis of M. tuberculosis and other mycobacterial species in vivo. Furthermore, the development of auto-luminescent mycobacteria has enormous ramifications for high throughput mycobacterial drug screening assays which are currently carried out either in a destructive manner using LuxAB or the firefly luciferase.
Considerable emphasis is being placed on quantitative risk assessment modelling as a basis for regulation of trade in food products. However, for models to be accurate, information about the behaviour of potential pathogens in foods needs to be available. The question is how to obtain this knowledge in a simple and cost effective way. One technique that has great potential is the use of reporter bacteria which have been genetically modified to express a phenotype that can be easily monitored, such as light production in luminescent organisms. Bacteria carrying these (lux) genes can easily be detected using simple luminometers or more sophisticated low light imaging equipment.
By monitoring light output from these bacteria over time, it can easily be determined if the organism is growing (resulting in an increase in light emission), is dead (causing a decrease in light production) or is injured (light output remains constant). The use of imaging systems allows the response of bioluminescent bacteria to be studied directly on the food, making the technique even more useful. Applications of bioluminescence are discussed below and include use as reporters of gene expression; biocide efficacy and antibiotic susceptibility; sub-lethal injury; adhesion and biofilm formation; the microbial ecology of foods; pathogenesis; and as biosensors.
Bioluminescence; Ecology; Foodborne pathogens; Gene expression
18F-fluoro-d-deoxyglucose positron emission tomography ([18F]-FDG PET) is successfully employed as a molecular imaging technique in oncology, and has become a promising imaging modality in the field of infection. The non-invasive diagnosis of spinal infections (SI) has been a challenge for physicians for many years. Morphological imaging modalities such as conventional radiography, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are techniques frequently used in patients with SI. However, these methods are sometimes non-specific, and difficulties in differentiating infectious from degenerative end-plate abnormalities or postoperative changes can occur. Moreover, in contrast to CT and MRI, FDG uptake in PET is not hampered by metallic implant-associated artifacts. Conventional radionuclide imaging tests, such as bone scintigraphy, labeled leukocyte, and gallium scanning, suffer from relatively poor spatial resolution and lack sensitivity, specificity, or both. Initial data show that [18F]-FDG PET is an emerging imaging technique for diagnosing SI. [18F]-FDG PET appears to be especially helpful in those cases in which MRI cannot be performed or is non-diagnostic, and as an adjunct in patients in whom the diagnosis is inconclusive. The article reviews the currently available literature on [18F]-FDG PET and PET/CT in the diagnosis of SI.
Spinal infection; MRI; SPECT; PET; [18F]-FDG
We report on the use of optical techniques to monitor and treat Pseudomonas aeruginosa wound infections in mice. Bioluminescent bacteria transduced with a plasmid containing a bacterial lux gene operon allow the infection in excisional mouse wounds to be imaged by use of a sensitive charge-coupled device camera. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) targeted bacteria, by use of a polycationic photosensitizer conjugate, which is designed to penetrate the gram-negative cell wall and was topically applied to the wound and was followed by red-light illumination. There was a rapid light dose–dependent loss of luminescence, as measured by image analysis, in the wounds treated with conjugate and light, a loss that was not seen in untreated wounds, wounds treated with light alone, or wounds treated with conjugate alone. P. aeruginosa was invasive in our mouse model, and all 3 groups of control mice died within 5 days; in contrast, 90% of PDT-treated mice survived. PDT-treated wounds healed significantly faster than did silver nitrate–treated wounds, and this was not due to either inhibition of healing by silver nitrate or stimulation of healing by PDT.