Novel methods of time-resolved fluorescence data analysis for in-vivo tissue characterization: application to atherosclerosis
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This study investigates the ability of new analytical methods of time-resolved laser-induced fluorescence spectroscopy (TR-LIFS) data to characterize tissue in-vivo, such as the composition of atherosclerotic vulnerable plaques. A total of 73 TR-LIFS measurements were taken in-vivo from the aorta of 8 rabbits, and subsequently analyzed using the Laguerre deconvolution technique. The investigated spots were classified as normal aorta, thin or thick lesions, and lesions rich in either collagen or macrophages/foam-cells. Different linear and nonlinear classification algorithms (linear discriminant analysis, stepwise linear discriminant analysis, principal component analysis, and feedforward neural networks) were developed using spectral and TR features (ratios of intensity values and Laguerre expansion coefficients, respectively). Normal intima and thin lesions were discriminated from thick lesions (sensitivity >90%, specificity 100%) using only spectral features. However, both spectral and time-resolved features were necessary to discriminate thick lesions rich in collagen from thick lesions rich in foam cells (sensitivity >85%, specificity >93%), and thin lesions rich in foam cells from normal aorta and thin lesions rich in collagen (sensitivity >85%, specificity >94%). Based on these findings, we believe that TR-LIFS information derived from the Laguerre expansion coefficients can provide a valuable additional dimension for in-vivo tissue characterization.