Noninvasive assessment of the developing Xenopus cardiovascular system using optical coherence tomography

Stephen A. Boppart, Gary J. Tearney, Brett E. Bouma, James F. Southern, Mark E. Brezinski, James G. Fujimoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Studies investigating normal and abnormal cardiac development are frequently limited by an inability to assess cardiovascular function within the intact organism. In this work, optical coherence tomography (OCT), a new method of micron-scale, noninvasive imaging based on the measurement of backscattered infrared light, was introduced for the high resolution assessment of structure and function in the developing Xenopus laevis cardiovascular system. Microstructural details, such as ventricular size and wall positions, were delineated with OCT at 16-μm resolution and correlated with histology. Three-dimensional representation of the cardiovascular system also was achieved by repeated cross-sectional imaging at intervals of 25 μm. In addition to structural information, OCT provides high speed in vivo axial ranging and imaging, allowing quantitative dynamic activity, such as ventricular ejection fraction, to be assessed. The sensitivity of OCT for dynamic assessment was demonstrated with an inotropic agent that altered cardiac function and dimensions. Optical coherence tomography is an attractive new technology for assessing cardiovascular development because of its high resolution, its ability to image through nontransparent structures, and its inexpensive portable design. In vivo and in vitro imaging are performed at a resolution approaching that of histopathology without the need for animal killing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4256-4261
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number9
StatePublished - Apr 29 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • development
  • embryology
  • imaging
  • microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • General


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