Wide-field medium-repetition-rate multiphoton microscopy reduces photodamage of living cells
Demands of higher spatial and temporal resolutions in linear and nonlinear imaging keep pushing the limits of optical microscopy. We showed recently that a multiphoton microscope with 200 kHz repetition rate and wide-field illumination has a 2–3 orders of magnitude improved throughput compared to a high repetition rate confocal scanning microscope. Here, we examine the photodamage mechanisms and thresholds in live cell imaging for both systems. We first analyze theoretically the temperature increase in an aqueous solution resulting from illuminating with different repetition rates (keeping the deposited energy and irradiated volume constant). The analysis is complemented with photobleaching experiments of a phenolsulfonphthalein (phenol red) solution. Combining medium repetition rates and wide-field illumination promotes thermal diffusivity, which leads to lower photodamage and allows for higher peak intensities. A three day proliferation assay is also performed on living cells to confirm these results: dwell times can be increased by a factor of 3×106 while still preserving cell proliferation. By comparing the proliferation data with the endogenous two-photon fluorescence decay, we propose to use the percentage of the remaining endogenous two-photon fluorescence after exposure as a simple in-situ viability test. These findings enable the possibility of long-term imaging and reduced photodamage.