Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are short-lived, highly reactive chemical entities that play significant roles in all levels of biology. However, their measurement requires destructive preparation, thereby limiting the continuous measurement of ROS in a living tissue. We develop an optical mapping system to visualize ROS production in an isolated and perfused rat heart. By staining the heart with dihydroethidium (DHE), a 532-nm laser beam is directed to the epicardial surface, where we collect the red fluorescence (>600 nm) for semiquantitative analysis. With this system, ROS production as well as ventricular pressure and ECG in isolated perfused rat hearts are monitored throughout the reperfusion of global ischemia. Ischemia would decrease myocardial ROS production, while reperfusion would immediately result in sustained ROS overproduction. Optical mapping would provide information regarding the spatial distribution and temporal evolution of myocardial ROS production, which would enhance knowledge of the role of free radicals in cardiovascular biology.
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