Noninvasive fluorescence imaging (NFI) is a powerful tool to study physiology and pathophysiology in animal disease models. NFI has been successfully applied in a number of animal disease models including cancer, arthritis, and stroke. Furthermore, several applications in humans have been described. NFI is widely available in research laboratories because it has a number of advantages: It uses non-ionizing radiation and requires comparably simple, inexpensive instrumentation, and easy to handle. Fluorochromes can be detected with high sensitivity, and image acquisition time is relatively short. Furthermore, a plethora of fluorescent imaging agents is available including unspecific, target-specific, and activatable imaging probes. With these probes, biological processes such as inflammation, cell death or enzyme activity, and many others can be visualized in living animals. This review offers an overview of current approaches in NFI of stroke pathophysiology in animal models of cerebral ischemia. First, the instrumentation and the different types of imaging agents for NFI are described. Second, a short introduction to animal models of stroke is provided. Third, examples for NFI in animal models of stroke are given. Finally, the use of NFI in human stroke is critically discussed.
Keywords: Fluorescence, cerebral ischemia, experimental stroke, stroke pathophysiology, noninvasive small animal imaging, noninvasive fluorescence imaging, bioluminescence imaging, fluorescence reflectance imaging, transillumination fluorescence imaging, fluorescencemediated tomography, fluorochrome, absorption, resolution