Label-free imaging of age-related cardiac structural changes in non-human primates using multiphoton nonlinear microscopy


Khan A, Ramos-Gomes F, Markus A, Mietsch M, Hinkel R, Alves F


Biomedical Optics Express


Biomed. Opt. Express 12, 7009-7023 (2021).


Heart failure is one of the most common causes of morbidity and mortality. Both maturational abnormalities and age-associated cardiac pathologies contribute to heart failure. Imaging-based assessment to discern detailed cardiac structure at various maturational stages is imperative for understanding mechanisms behind cardiac growth and aging. Using multiphoton nonlinear optical microscopy (NLOM) based label-free imaging, we investigated cardiac structural composition in a human-relevant aging model, the common marmoset monkey (Callithrix jacchus). Animals were divided into three different age groups including neonatal, young adult and old. By devising a unique strategy for segregating collagen and myosin emitted second harmonic generation (SHG) signals, we performed a volumetric assessment of collagen and total scattering tissue (collagen + myosin). Aged marmoset hearts exhibited an increase in collagen and total scattering tissue volume at the sites of severe tissue remodelling indicating age-related cardiac fibrosis. Significantly low scattering tissue volume in neonatal marmoset hearts was attributed to a lack of binding between the myofibrils in maturing cardiac tissue. Comprehensive quantitative assessment of structural composition during maturation and aging of marmoset hearts revealed significant differences in myofibril length, alignment, curvature and angular distribution. In conclusion, label-free high-resolution NLOM facilitates visualization and quantification of subcellular structural features for understanding vital age-related morphological alterations in the marmoset heart.


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