In vivo bioluminescence imaging (BLi) is an optical molecular imaging technique used to visualize molecular and cellular processes in health and diseases and to follow the fate of cells with high sensitivity using luciferase-based gene reporters. The high sensitivity of this technique arises from efficient photon production, followed by the reaction between luciferase enzymes and luciferin substrates. Novel discoveries and developments of luciferase reporters, substrates, and gene-editing techniques, and emerging fields of applications, promise a new era of deeper and more sensitive molecular imaging.

BLi is now a standard technique for in vivo imaging of gene expression and to follow cells and their fate. However, many applications are limited by the use of a single reporter and limited sensitivity in deep tissue. Novel far-red and near-infrared emitting systems for enhanced sensitivity and resolution in deep tissue and multicolor applications have recently become available.Caged bioluminescent substrates for analyzing specific enzyme activity or detecting bioactive small molecules are under development. Opportunities in technical improvements of signal acquisition and processing are emerging. Newly available bioluminescent tools and recent applications are altering the practice of BLI.

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Keywords Bioluminescence imaging, Caged-luciferin, in vivo imaging, Light producing transgenic animals, Luciferase
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Journal Trends in Biotechnology
Mezzanotte, L, van 't Root, M, Karatas, H. (Hacer), Goua, E.A. (Elena A.), & Löwik, C.W.G.M. (2017). In Vivo Molecular Bioluminescence Imaging: New Tools and Applications. Trends in Biotechnology. doi:10.1016/j.tibtech.2017.03.012