Miniaturized laser-based imaging techniques for endothelial and placental blood flow assessment in murine models of pregnancy

Lukas Markwalder, Nikola Krstajic, Rodney Gush, Claire Sneddon, Faisel Khan, Colin E. Murdoch

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstractpeer-review


Objectives: Endothelial dysfunction is important in the pathophysiology of preeclampsia often preceding the onset of the clinical disease, suggesting a major contributor to placenta dysfunction. Animal models offer unique opportunities to study both placental insufficiency and maternal endothelial function during pregnancy. New blood flow visualisation techniques are needed in order to validate murine models. We developed an endoscopic probe for real-time perfusion imaging of the placenta and miniaturisation of iontophoresis hardware to assess maternal skin microvascular function in mouse models.

Methods: A minimally invasive probe featuring an endoscopic Laser Speckle Flow Imaging (LSFI) system to visualise real-time perfusion in organs was developed. LSFI is a real-time wide-field scanning technique, used clinically for assessment of skin microvascular function. Illumination of moving erythrocytes generate a dynamic light pattern (speckles), which quantify blood flow activity.

For endothelial assessment the transdermal drug delivery method iontophoresis is an established technique. For the application in rodents we miniaturized the hardware.

Results: Our LSFI-device combines a miniature camera (speckle capture) with a fibre-coupled near-infrared laser (illumination) in the tip of the endoscopic probe. A 1x1mm camera successfully visualized speckle contrast on flow phantom.

A 3D-printed, miniaturized and flexible chamber, called Ion mini, was designed for transdermal drug delivery , to assess maternal microvascular function using LSFI.

Conclusion: The hardware for LSFI has been successfully miniaturized and tested in vitro. Use of the endoscopic laser to assess placental vascular insufficiency will be further validated in a mouse model of pregnancy.

New iontophoresis hardware has been adapted and validated for the use in rodents. This technology will provide a platform to assess animal models of pregnancy and compare against clinical parameters to validate model characteristics.

Endoscopic LSFI could provide wider clinical impact to visualize blood vessels and organ perfusion in real-time during surgery without the need for different imaging modalities or injection of dyes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E34
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021


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