Multiphoton fluorescence lifetime imaging of 3D-stem cell spheroids during differentiation
Long-term high-resolution multiphoton imaging of nonlabeled human salivary gland stem cell spheroids has been performed with submicron spatial resolution, 10.5-nm spectral resolution, and picosecond temporal resolution. In particular, the two-photon-excited coenzyme NAD(P)H and flavins have been detected by time-correlated single photon counting (TCSPC). Stem cells increased their autofluorescence lifetimes and decreased their total fluorescence intensity during the adipogenic-differentiation process. In addition, the onset of the biosynthesis of lipid vacuoles was monitored over a period of several weeks in stem-cell spheroids. Time-resolved multiphoton autofluorescence imaging microscopes may become a promising tool for marker-free stem-cell characterization and cell sorting.