Tryptophan autofluorescence imaging of neoplasms of the human colon

Bhaskar Banerjee, Timothy Renkoski, Logan R. Graves, Nathaniel S. Rial, Vassiliki Liana Tsikitis, Valentine Nfonsam, Judith Pugh, Piyush Tiwari, Hemanth Gavini, Urs Utzinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Detection of flat neoplasia is a major challenge in colorectal cancer screening, as missed lesions can lead to the development of an unexpected 'incident' cancer prior to the subsequent endoscopy. The use of a tryptophanrelated autofluorescence has been reported to be increased in murine intestinal dysplasia. The emission spectra of cells isolated from human adenocarcinoma and normal mucosa of the colon were studied and showed markedly greater emission intensity from cancerous cells compared to cells obtained from the surrounding normal mucosa. A proto-type multispectral imaging system optimized for ultraviolet macroscopic imaging of tissue was used to obtain autofluorescence images of surgical specimens of colonic neoplasms and normal mucosa after resection. Fluorescence images did not display the expected greater emission from the tumor as compared to the normal mucosa, most probably due to increased optical absorption and scattering in the tumors. Increased fluorescence intensity in neoplasms was observed however, once fluorescence images were corrected using reflectance images. Tryptophan fluorescence alone may be useful in differentiating normal and cancerous cells, while in tissues its autofluorescence image divided by green reflectance may be useful in displaying neoplasms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number016003
JournalJournal of biomedical optics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Autofluorescence
  • Cancer
  • Colon
  • Tryptophan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomedical Engineering


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