The Progress of Label-Free Optical Imaging in Alzheimer’s Disease Screening and Diagnosis

Kai Liu, Jiasong Li, Raksha Raghunathan, Hong Zhao, Xuping Li, Stephen T.C. Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


As the major neurodegenerative disease of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has caused an enormous social and economic burden on society. Currently, AD has neither clear pathogenesis nor effective treatments. Positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have been verified as potential tools for diagnosing and monitoring Alzheimer’s disease. However, the high costs, low spatial resolution, and long acquisition time limit their broad clinical utilization. The gold standard of AD diagnosis routinely used in research is imaging AD biomarkers with dyes or other reagents, which are unsuitable for in vivo studies owing to their potential toxicity and prolonged and costly process of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for human use. Furthermore, these exogenous reagents might bring unwarranted interference to mechanistic studies, causing unreliable results. Several label-free optical imaging techniques, such as infrared spectroscopic imaging (IRSI), Raman spectroscopic imaging (RSI), optical coherence tomography (OCT), autofluorescence imaging (AFI), optical harmonic generation imaging (OHGI), etc., have been developed to circumvent this issue and made it possible to offer an accurate and detailed analysis of AD biomarkers. In this review, we present the emerging label-free optical imaging techniques and their applications in AD, along with their potential and challenges in AD diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number699024
JournalFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience
StatePublished - Jul 22 2021


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • early detection
  • label-free optical imaging
  • review
  • spectroscopic imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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