Fundus autofluorescence beyond lipofuscin: lesson learned from ex vivo fluorescence lifetime imaging in porcine eyes
Fundus autofluorescence (FAF) imaging is a well-established method in ophthalmology; however, the fluorophores involved need more clarification. The FAF lifetimes of 20 post mortem porcine eyes were measured in two spectral channels using fluorescence lifetime imaging ophthalmoscopy (FLIO) and compared with clinical data from 44 healthy young subjects. The FAF intensity ratio of the short and the long wavelength emission (spectral ratio) was determined. Ex vivo porcine fundus fluorescence emission is generally less intense than that seen in human eyes. The porcine retina showed significantly (p<0.05) longer lifetimes than the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE): 584 ± 128 ps vs. 121 ± 55 ps 498-560 nm, 240 ± 42 ps vs. 125 ± 20 ps at 560-720 nm. Furthermore, the lifetimes of the porcine RPE were significantly shorter (121 ± 55 ps and 125 ± 20 ps) than those measured from human fundus in vivo (162 ± 14 ps and 179 ± 13 ps, respectively). The fluorescence emission of porcine retina was shifted towards a shorter wavelength compared to that of RPE and human FAF. This data shows the considerable contribution of fluorophores in the neural retina to total FAF intensity in porcine eyes.
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