Similarity of skin cancer with many benign skin pathologies requires reliable methods to detect and differentiate the different types of these lesions. Previous studies have explored the use of disparate optical techniques to identify and estimate the invasive nature of melanoma and basal cell carcinoma with varying outcomes. Here, we used a concerted approach that provides complementary information for rapid screening and characterization of tumors, focusing on squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the skin. Assessment of in vivo autofluorescence lifetime (FLT) imaging of endogenous fluorophores that are excitable at longer wavelengths (480 nm) than conventional NADH and FAD revealed a decrease in the short FLT component for SCC compared to normal skin, with mean values of 0.57±0.026 ns and 0.61±0.021 ns, respectively (p=0.004). Subsequent systemic administration of a near-infrared fluorescent molecular probe in SCC bearing mice, followed by the implementation of image processing methods on data acquired from two-dimensional and three-dimensional fluorescence molecular imaging, allowed us to estimate the tumor volume and depth, as well as quantify the fluorescent probe in the tumor. The result suggests the involvement of lipofuscin-like lipopigments and riboflavin in SCC metabolism and serves as a model for staging SCC.
- fluorescence lifetime imaging
- fluorescence molecular tomography
- nonmelanoma skin cancer
- squamous cell carcinoma