Deep brain imaging of live tissue



Dr. Iwano and Dr. Miyawaki et al. developed AkaBLI that is a new bioluminescence in vivo imaging system. AkaBLI produced emissions in vivo that were brighter by a factor of 100 to 1000 than conventional systems. AkaBLI is expected to find out unprecedented scientific, medical, and industrial applications.

Data provided by Dr. Satoshi Iwano and Dr. Atsushi Miyawaki, Laboratory for Cell Function Dynamics, Brain Science Institute, RIKEN


AkaLumine-HCl is a luciferin analog has the luminescence peak at 670 ~ 680 nm . The peak range is in the near-infrared (NIR) window (also known as optical window). Since the adsorption of hemoglobin and water is small in the optical window, Aka Lumine is well suited to in vivo imaging.


  • Near-infrared red (NIR)-emission luciferin analog
  • Peak luminescence at 675 nm
  • Allows non-invasive visualization of single cells deep inside freely moving animals
  • Orally bioavailable and brain penetrant

Structural formula / Emission spectrum

Structure formula


Fig1. AkaLumine-HCl

Luminescence Wavelength


Fig2. Bioluminescence emission spectra of d-luciferin (d-luci) and AkaLumine-HCl (Aka-HCl).



Fig3. Representative BL images of LLC/luc subcutaneous tumours and quantitative analysis of BL production 15 min after intraperitoneal injection of 100 μl of D-luciferin (D-luci) or AkaLumine-HCl (Aka-HCl) with indicated concentration. n=4 *P<0.05 (t-test). The substrates were injected to the same mouse in the order of D-luci and Aka-HCl at a 4-h interval. Error bars indicate s.e.m.



Fig.4 Substrate dose dependency of total production in LLC/luc cells. The cells (4 × 105 cells per well) were treated with the substrate at indicated concentrations. Images were acquired with 680±10 nm emission without a filter, to measure total bioluminescence signals, respectively. n=3, *P<0.05 (t-test). Error bars indicate s.e.m.




Fig5. Bioluminescence images using AkaBLI system
Bioluminescence images Bioluminescence images of mice 2 weeks after viral infection for expression of Fluc (left) and Akaluc (right) in the right striatum. Immediately after substrate administration (intraperitoneal), anesthetized mice were imaged using a cooled CCD camera (top). The AkaLumine-HCl/Akaluc signals were statistically compared to D-luciferin/Fluc signals (middle). Data are presented as mean ± SEM of n = 3 mice. Mice were injected with 100 to 200 μl of D-luciferin (100 mM) or AkaLumine-HCl (30 mM).


In vivo bioluminescence imaging An example of bioluminescence imaging of Akaluc expression in the striatum of two freely moving rats and the marmoset.

  • 00669_img07.png
    Akaluc expression site:Striatum(Mouse Brain)
  • 00669_img08.png
    Akalucexpressionsite:Striatum(Marmoset Brain)

Data provided by Dr. Takahiro Kuchimaru and Dr. Shinae Kizaka-Kondoh, School of Life Science and Technology, Tokyo Institute of Technology.
Dr. Shojiro Maki,Graduate School of Informatics and Engineering, The University of Electro-Communications


  1. Iwano, S. et al.:Tetrahedron.,69, 3847(2013).
  2. Kuchimaru, al.: Nature Communications., 7, 11856 (2016)
  3. Iwano, S. et al.: Science.,359, 935(2018).

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