Three dimensional image restoration in fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy


Philippe I. H. Bastiaens Tel: +44 (0)171 269 3082; fax: + 44 (0)171 269 3094; e-mail:


A microscope set-up and numerical methods are described which enable the measurement and reconstruction of three-dimensional nanosecond fluorescence lifetime images in every voxel. The frequency domain fluorescence lifetime imaging microscope (FLIM) utilizes phase detection of high-frequency modulated light by homodyne mixing on a microchannel plate image intensifier. The output signal at the image intensifier's phosphor screen is integrated on a charge coupled device camera. A scanning stage is employed to obtain a series of phase-dependent intensity images at equally separated depths in a specimen. The Fourier transform of phase-dependent data gives three-dimensional (3D) images of the Fourier coefficients. These images are deblurred using an Iterative Constrained Tikhonov–Miller (ICTM) algorithm in conjunction with a measured point spread function. The 3D reconstruction of fluorescence lifetimes are calculated from the deblurred images of the Fourier coefficients. An improved spatial and temporal resolution of fluorescence lifetimes was obtained using this approach to the reconstruction of simulated 3D FLIM data. The technique was applied to restore 3D FLIM data of a live cell specimen expressing two green fluorescent protein fusion constructs having distinct fluorescence lifetimes which localized to separate cellular compartments.