White matter (WM) loss is a critical event after spinal cord injury (SCI). Conventionally, such loss has been measured with histological and histochemical approaches, although the procedures are complex and may cause artifact. Recently, coherent Raman microscopy has been proven to be an emerging technology to study de- and remyelination of the injured spinal cord; however, limited penetration depth and small imaging field prevent it from comprehensive assessments of large areas of damaged tissues. Here, we report the use of bond-selective photoacoustic (PA) imaging with 1730-nm excitation, where the first overtone vibration of CH2 bond is located, to assess WM loss after a contusive SCI in adult rats. By employing the first overtone vibration of CH2 bond as the contrast, the mapping of the WM in an intact spinal cord was achieved in a label-free three-dimensional manner, and the physiological change of the spinal cord before and after injury was observed. Moreover, the recovery of the spinal cord from contusive injury with the treatment of a neuroprotective nanomedicine ferulic-acid-conjugated glycol chitosan (FA-GC) was also observed. Our study suggests that bond-selective PA imaging is a valuable tool to assess the progression of WM pathology after SCI as well as neuroprotective therapeutics in a label-free manner.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology