Multispectral fluorescence lifetime imaging (m-FLIM) can potentially allow identifying the endogenous fluorophores present in biological tissue. Quantitative description of such data requires estimating the number of components in the sample, their characteristic fluorescent decays, and their relative contributions or abundances. Unfortunately, this inverse problem usually requires prior knowledge about the data, which is seldom available in biomedical applications. This work presents a new methodology to estimate the number of potential endogenous fluorophores present in biological tissue samples from time-domain m-FLIM data. Furthermore, a completely blind linear unmixing algorithm is proposed. The method was validated using both synthetic and experimental m-FLIM data. The experimental m-FLIM data include in-vivo measurements from healthy and cancerous hamster cheek-pouch epithelial tissue, and ex-vivo measurements from human coronary atherosclerotic plaques. The analysis of m-FLIM data from in-vivo hamster oral mucosa identified healthy from precancerous lesions, based on the relative concentration of their characteristic fluorophores. The algorithm also provided a better description of atherosclerotic plaques in term of their endogenous fluorophores. These results demonstrate the potential of this methodology to provide quantitative description of tissue biochemical composition.
Estimation of the number of fluorescent end-members for quantitative analysis of multispectral FLIM data
Gutierrez-Navarro O, Campos-Delgado DU, Arce-Santana ER, Maitland KC, Cheng S, Jabbour J, Malik B, Cuenca R, Jo JA, “Estimation of the number of fluorescent end-members for quantitative analysis of multispectral FLIM data,” Optics Express, Vol. 22, No. 10, 12255-12272, 2014.