We report the development of a compact point-detection fluorescence spectroscopy system and two data analysis methods to quantify the intrinsic fluorescence redox ratio and diagnose brain cancer in an orthotopic brain tumor rat model. Our system employs one compact cw diode laser (407 nm) to excite two primary endogenous fluorophores, reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, and flavin adenine dinucleotide. The spectra were first analyzed using a spectral filtering modulation method developed previously to derive the intrinsic fluorescence redox ratio, which has the advantages of insensitivty to optical coupling and rapid data acquisition and analysis. This method represents a convenient and rapid alternative for achieving intrinsic fluorescence-based redox measurements as compared to those complicated model-based methods. It is worth noting that the method can also extract total hemoglobin concentration at the same time but only if the emission path length of fluorescence light, which depends on the illumination and collection geometry of the optical probe, is long enough so that the effect of absorption on fluorescence intensity due to hemoglobin is significant. Then a multivariate method was used to statistically classify normal tissues and tumors. Although the first method offers quantitative tissue metabolism information, the second method provides high overall classification accuracy. The two methods provide complementary capabilities for understanding cancer development and noninvasively diagnosing brain cancer. The results of our study suggest that this portable system can be potentially used to demarcate the elusive boundary between a brain tumor and the surrounding normal tissue during surgical resection
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