Background and Objective: Autofluorescence (AF) emission is an intrinsic parameter that can provide real time information on morpho-functional properties of biological tissue, being strictly related with their biochemical composition and structural organization. The diagnostic potentials of AF-based techniques have been investigated on normal, fibrotic, and steatotic liver tissues, in reference to histological features as evidenced by specific histochemical stainings. Materials and Methods: AF emission under excitation at 366 nm has been examined on cryostatic tissue sections obtained from biopsies collected during surgical operation by means of fluorescence imaging and microspectrofluorometric techniques. Results: NAD(P)H, collagen and vitamin A, were found to be the endogenous fluorophores characterizing normal, fibrotic and steatotic liver tissue AF, respectively. The differences of their photo-physical properties, in terms of emission amplitude, spectral shape and response to irradiation, give rise to modifications of overall AF signal collected from tissues, that allow the liver tissue conditions to be distinguished. Conclusion: The study provides a valid premise for a development of AF based optical biopsy techniques for a real time discrimination of liver anatomo-pathological patterns.
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