Imaging is an essential tool in research, diagnostics and the management of endocrine disorders. Ultrasonography, nuclear medicine techniques, MRI, CT and optical methods are already used for applications in endocrinology. Optoacoustic imaging, also termed photoacoustic imaging, is emerging as a method for visualizing endocrine physiology and disease at different scales of detail: microscopic, mesoscopic and macroscopic. Optoacoustic contrast arises from endogenous light absorbers, such as oxygenated and deoxygenated haemoglobin, lipids and water, or exogenous contrast agents, and reveals tissue vasculature, perfusion, oxygenation, metabolic activity and inflammation. The development of high-performance optoacoustic scanners for use in humans has given rise to a variety of clinical investigations, which complement the use of the technology in preclinical research. Here, we review key progress with optoacoustic imaging technology as it relates to applications in endocrinology; for example, to visualize thyroid morphology and function, and the microvasculature in diabetes mellitus or adipose tissue metabolism, with particular focus on multispectral optoacoustic tomography and raster-scan optoacoustic mesoscopy. We explain the merits of optoacoustic microscopy and focus on mid-infrared optoacoustic microscopy, which enables label-free imaging of metabolites in cells and tissues. We showcase current optoacoustic applications within endocrinology and discuss the potential of these technologies to advance research and clinical practice.

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