Abstract

Microglia act as the first and main form of active immune defense in brain. However, in animal models, research on these cells is limited to the superficial layer of the brain, due to the lack of a deep-imaging technique. Here we break this depth limit using three-photon fluorescence (3PF) microscopy excited at the 1700-nm window. Three-photon action cross-section ($\eta {\sigma _3}$) measurement lays the basis for dye selection and the resultant maximization of 3PF generation. 3PF imaging suppresses the surface background, leading to a much improved signal-to-background ratio compared to the commonly used two-photon microscopy (2PM). We can image microglia 1124 µm below the brain surface in vivo, 3.7 times deeper than previous results using 2PM for microglia imaging. This technique enables us to visualize microglia in the white matter layer in vivo for the first time.

© 2020 Optical Society of America

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