Multiphoton excitation microscopy (MPM) is regarded as an effective tool that enables the visualization of deep regions within living tissues and organs, with little damage. Here, we report novel non-labeling MPM (NL-MPM) imaging of fresh human colorectal mucosa, which is useful for discriminating cancer lesions from normal tissues quantitatively without any need for resection, fixation, or staining. Using NL-MPM, we visualized three components in human colorectal mucosa, epithelial cells, immune cells, and basement membranes, based on their characteristic patterns of fluorescence. These patterns are characterized by the different auto-fluorescence properties of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate, and flavin adenine dinucleotide and from second harmonic generation (SHG). NL-MPM images were at least as informative to pathologists as were 'conventional' images of fixed tissue sections stained with hematoxylin and eosin. Additionally, two quantitative parameters extracted from NL-MPM images - the nucleus diameter (index N) and the intensity of SHG in the basement membrane (index S) - rendered it possible to diagnose cancer regions effectively. In conclusion, NL-MPM is a novel, promising method for real-time clinical diagnosis of colorectal cancers, and is associated with minimal invasiveness.
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