Digital optical imaging of green fluorescent proteins for tracking vascular gene expression: Feasibility study in rabbit and human cell models

X. Yang, H. Liu, D. Li, X. Zhou, W. C. Jung, A. E. Deans, Yan Cui, L. Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: To investigate the feasibility of using a sensitive digital optical imaging technique to detect green fluorescent protein (GFP) expressed in rabbit vasculature and human arterial smooth muscle cells. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A GFP plasmid was transfected into human arterial smooth muscle cells to obtain a GFP-smooth muscle cell solution. This solution was imaged in cell phantoms by using a prototype digital optical imaging system. For in vivo validation, a GFP-lentivirus vector was transfected during surgery into the carotid arteries of two rabbits, and GFP-targeted vessels were harvested for digital optical imaging ex vivo. RESULTS: Optical imaging of cell phantoms resulted in a spatial resolution of 25 μm/pixel. Fluorescent signals were detected as diffusely distributed bright spots. At ex vivo optical imaging of arterial tissues, the average fluorescent signal was significantly higher (P < .05) in GFP-targeted tissues (mean ± SD, 9,357.3 absolute units of density ± 1,001.3) than in control tissues (5,633.7 absolute units of density ± 985.2). Both fluorescence microscopic and immunohistochemical findings confirmed these differences between GFP-targeted and control vessels. CONCLUSION: The digital optical imaging system was sensitive to GFPs and may potentially provide an in vivo imaging tool to monitor and track vascular gene transfer and expression in experimental investigations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-175
Number of pages5
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2001
Externally publishedYes



  • Animals
  • Carotid arteries
  • Experimental studies
  • Genes and genetics
  • Molecular analysis
  • Proteins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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