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Near Infrared Technology and Optical Agents For Molecular Imaging

low 700 nm, tissue absorption results in small penetration depths of only a few millimeters1. Thus in the visible region of the spectrum, only superficial assessment of tissue features is possible.

The light absorption is due to oxy- and deoxyhemoglobin, melanin, lipid, and other compounds found in living tissue2, 3, 4. These compounds cause tissue a u t o f l u o rescence throughout the visible spectral range up to approximately 700 nm5, 6. Because the absorption coefficient of tissue is considerably smaller in the near infrared region (700 nm-900 nm), light can penetrate more deeply into the tissues to depths of several centimeters3, 7, 8.

A key to enabling optical imaging has been the development of suitable NIR fluorochromes with high molar extinction coefficients, good quantum yields and low non-specific tissue binding. There are several commercially available candidate fluorochromes which can be used for optical imaging, including I R D ye 800CW, IRDye 680, IRDye 700DX, Cy5.5, and Alexa Fluor 750. Quantum dots have been used; however, their size often precludes efficient clearance from the circulatory and renal systems and there are questions about their long-term toxicity4.

A number of studies have been published using NIR dyes. Two of the dyes commonly used for optical imaging are Cy5.5 and IRDye 800CW. Cy5.5 has been used in the past primarily due to the lack of other candidate dyes suitable for imaging. Cy5.5 has excitation/emission maxima at 675 nm/694 nm, making it a borderline candidate labeling agent1, 3. In contrast, a recently developed fluoro c h rome, IRDye 800CW, has its excitation/emission maxima at 785 nm/810 nm precisely centered in the region known to give optimal signal to background in optical imaging (see Figure 1)
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