• chronic obstructive pulmonary disease;
  • extracellular matrix remodelling;
  • idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis;
  • Lung cancer;
  • multi photon excitation fluorescence;
  • second harmonic generation;
  • tissue engineering


For translational respiratory research including in the development of clinical diagnostic tools, a minimally invasive imaging method, which can provide both cellular and extracellular structural details with sufficient specificity, sensitivity and spatial resolution, is particularly useful. Multiphoton microscopy causes excitation of endogenously fluorescent macromolecular systems and induces highly specific second harmonic generation signals from non-centrosymmetric macromolecules such as fibrillar collagens. Both these signals can be captured simultaneously to provide spatially resolved 3D structural organization of extracellular matrix as well as the cellular morphologies in their native states. Besides briefly discussing the fundamentals of multiphoton excitation fluorescence and harmonic generation signals and the instrumentation details, this review focuses on the specific applications of these imaging modalities in lung structural imaging, particularly morphological features of alveolar structures, visualizing and quantifying extracellular matrix remodelling accompanying emphysematous destructions as well as the IPF, detecting lung cancers and the potential use in the tissue engineering applications.