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What Is Autofluorescence

Written by Tim Bushnell, PhD

What is autofluorescence? Autofluorescence is the term given to describe the natural fluorescence that occurs in cells. The common compounds that give rise to this fluorescence signal include cyclic ring compounds like NAD(P)H, Collagen, and Riboflavin, as well as aromatic amino acids including tyrosine, tryptophan, phenylalanine.

These compounds absorb in UV to Blue range (355-488 nm), and emit in the Blue to Green range (350-550 nm). The consequence of this autofluorescence is the loss of signal resolution in these light ranges and a decrease in signal sensitivity.

Autofluorescence typically increases with cell size. Larger cells have more autofluorescence than small cells due to the simple fact that the larger cells often contain more autofluorescent compounds.

Tim Bushnell, PhD

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