Bioluminescence imaging in live cells and animals

Jack K. Tung, Ken Berglund, Claire Anne Gutekunst, Ute Hochgeschwender, Robert E. Gross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The use of bioluminescent reporters in neuroscience research continues to grow at a rapid pace as their applications and unique advantages over conventional fluorescent reporters become more appreciated. Here, we describe practical methods and principles for detecting and imaging bioluminescence from live cells and animals. We systematically tested various components of our conventional fluorescence microscope to optimize it for long-term bioluminescence imaging. High-resolution bioluminescence images from live neurons were obtained with our microscope setup, which could be continuously captured for several hours with no signs of phototoxicity. Bioluminescence from the mouse brain was also imaged noninvasively through the intact skull with a conventional luminescence imager. These methods demonstrate how bioluminescence can be routinely detected and measured from live cells and animals in a cost-effective way with common reagents and equipment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number025001
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Imaging
  • In vivo
  • Live cell
  • Luciferase
  • bioluminescence


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