Rubart, M.
Two-photon microscopy of cells and tissues. Circulation Research 95: 1154-1166 (2004).

Two-photon excitation fluorescence imaging provides thin optical sections from deep within thick, scattering specimens by way of restricting fluorophore excitation (and thus emission) to the focal plane of the microscope. Spatial confinement of two-photon excitation gives rise to several advantages over single-photon confocal microscopy. First, penetration depth of the excitation beam is increased. Second, because out-of-focus fluorescence is never generated, no pinhole is necessary in the detection path of the microscope, resulting in increased fluorescence collection efficiency. Third, two-photon excitation markedly reduces overall photobleaching and photodamage, resulting in extended viability of biological specimens during long-term imaging. Finally, localized excitation can be used for photolysis of caged compounds in femtoliter volumes and for diffusion measurements by two-photon fluorescence photobleaching recovery. This review aims to provide an overview of the use of two-photon excitation microscopy. Selected applications of this technique will illustrate its excellent suitability to assess cellular and subcellular events in intact, strongly scattering tissue. In particular, its capability to resolve differences in calcium dynamics between individual cardiomyocytes deep within intact, buffer-perfused hearts is demonstrated. Potential applications of two-photon laser scanning microscopy as applied to integrative cardiac physiology are pointed out.