Fluorescence Lifetime to image epidermal ionic concentrations
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1117/12.545928
Measurements of ionic concentrations in skin have traditionally been performed with an array of methods which either did not reveal detailed localization information, or only provided qualitative, not quantitative information. FLIM combines a number of advantages into a method ideally suited to visualize concentrations of ions such as FT in intact, unperturbed epidermis and stratum corneum (SC). Fluorescence lifetime is dye concentration- independent, the method requires only low light intensities and is therefore not prone to photobleaching or phototoxic artifacts, and because multiphoton lasers of IR wavelength are used, light penetrates deep into intact tissue. The standard method to measure SC pH is the flat pH electrode, which provides reliable information only about surface pH changes, without further vertical or subcellular spatial resolution; i.e., specific microdomains such as the corneocyte interstices are not resolved, and the deeper SC is inaccessible without resorting to inherently disruptive stripping methods. Furthermore, the concept of a gradient of pH through the SC stems from such stripping experiments, but other confirmation for this concept is lacking. Our investigations into the SC pH distribution so far have revealed the crucial role of the Sodium/Hydrogen Antiporter NHE1 in generation of SC acidity, the colocalization of enzymatic lipid processing activity in the SC with acidic domains of the SC, and the timing and localization of emerging acidity in the SC of newborns. Together, these results have led to an improved understanding of the SC pH, its distribution, origin, and regulation. Future uses for this method include measurements of other ions important for epidermal processes, such as Ca2+, and a quantitative approach to topical drug penetration.