As the field of tissue engineering evolves, there will be an increasingly important need to visualize and track the complex dynamic changes that occur within three-dimensional constructs. Optical coherence tomography (OCT), as an emerging imaging technology applied to biological materials, offers a number of significant advantages to visualize these changes. Structural OCT has been used to investigate the longitudinal development of engineered tissues and cell dynamics such as migration, proliferation, detachment, and cell-material interactions. Optical techniques that image functional parameters or integrate multiple imaging modalities to provide complementary contrast mechanisms have been developed, such as the integration of optical coherence microscopy with multiphoton microscopy to image structural and functional information from cells in engineered tissue, optical coherence elastography to generate images or maps of strain to reflect the spatially-dependent biomechanical properties, and spectroscopic OCT to differentiate different cell types. From these results, OCT demonstrates great promise for imaging and visualizing engineered tissues, and the complex cellular dynamics that directly affect their practical and clinical use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)643-655
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biophotonics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2009


  • Engineered tissue
  • Functional imaging
  • Microscopy
  • Optical coherence tomography
  • Scaffolds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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