Seeing through Musculoskeletal Tissues: Improving In Situ Imaging of Bone and the Lacunar Canalicular System through Optical Clearing.
ABSTRACT: In situ, cells of the musculoskeletal system reside within complex and often interconnected 3-D environments. Key to better understanding how 3-D tissue and cellular environments regulate musculoskeletal physiology, homeostasis, and health is the use of robust methodologies for directly visualizing cell-cell and cell-matrix architecture in situ. However, the use of standard optical imaging techniques is often of limited utility in deep imaging of intact musculoskeletal tissues due to the highly scattering nature of biological tissues. Drawing inspiration from recent developments in the deep-tissue imaging field, we describe the application of immersion based optical clearing techniques, which utilize the principle of refractive index (RI) matching between the clearing/mounting media and tissue under observation, to improve the deep, in situ imaging of musculoskeletal tissues. To date, few optical clearing techniques have been applied specifically to musculoskeletal tissues, and a systematic comparison of the clearing ability of optical clearing agents in musculoskeletal tissues has yet to be fully demonstrated. In this study we tested the ability of eight different aqueous and non-aqueous clearing agents, with RIs ranging from 1.45 to 1.56, to optically clear murine knee joints and cortical bone. We demonstrated and quantified the ability of these optical clearing agents to clear musculoskeletal tissues and improve both macro- and micro-scale imaging of musculoskeletal tissue across several imaging modalities (stereomicroscopy, spectroscopy, and one-, and two-photon confocal microscopy) and investigational techniques (dynamic bone labeling and en bloc tissue staining). Based upon these findings we believe that optical clearing, in combination with advanced imaging techniques, has the potential to complement classical musculoskeletal analysis techniques; opening the door for improved in situ investigation and quantification of musculoskeletal tissues.
Project description:Visualizing the three-dimensional morphology and spatial patterning of cells embedded deep within dense connective tissues of the musculoskeletal system has been possible only by utilizing destructive techniques. Here we utilize fructose-based clearing solutions to image cell connectivity and deep tissue-scale patterning in situ by standard confocal microscopy. Optical clearing takes advantage of refractive index matching of tissue and the embedding medium to visualize light transmission through a broad range of bovine and whole mount murine tissues, including cartilage, bone, and ligament, of the head and hindlimb. Using non-destructive methods, we show for the first time intercellular chondrocyte connections throughout the bulk of cartilage, and we reveal in situ patterns of osteocyte processes and the lacunar-canalicular system deep within mineralized cortical bone. Optical clearing of connective tissues is expected to find broad application for the study of cell responses in normal physiology and disease pathology.
Project description:Optical clearing methods can facilitate deep optical imaging in biological tissue by reducing light scattering and this has enabled accurate three-dimensional signal visualization and quantification of complex biological structures. Unfortunately, existing optical clearing approaches present a compromise between maximizing clearing capability, the preservation of fluorescent protein emission and membrane integrity and the speed of sample processing - with the latter typically requiring weeks for cm scale tissue samples. To address this challenge, we present a new, convenient, aqueous optical clearing agent, termed UbasM: Urea-Based Amino-Sugar Mixture, that rapidly renders fixed tissue samples highly transparent and reliably preserves emission from fluorescent proteins and lipophilic dyes in membrane integrity preserved tissues. UbasM is simple, inexpensive, reproducible and compatible with all labeling methods that we have encountered. It can enable convenient, volumetric imaging of tissue up to the scale of whole adult mouse organs and should be useful for a wide range of light microscopy and tomography techniques applied to biomedical research, especially the study on organism-level systems biology at multiple levels.
Project description:Tissue clearing has gained attention as a pioneering research tool for imaging of large tissue samples. This technique improves light transmission by reducing light scattering within tissues, either by removing lipids or by replacing water with a high refractive index solution. Although various clearing techniques have been developed, quantitative assessments on clearing efficacy depending on tissue properties are rare. In this study, we developed the quantitative mapping of regional clearing efficacy using mean free path in optical coherence tomography (OCT) and proton density in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and demonstrated its feasibility in the brain sample with four representative clearing techniques (benzyl alcohol and benzyl benzoate [BABB], ClearT, Scale, and passive CLARITY technique [PACT]). BABB (solvent-based clearing), involving both refractive index matching and lipid removal, exhibited best optical clearing performance with the highest proton density reduction both in gray and white matter. Lipid-removing techniques such as Scale (aqueous hyperhydration) and PACT (hydrogel embedding) showed higher clearing efficiency in white matter than gray matter in accordance with larger proton density increase in white matter. For ClearT (aqueous-based simple immersion), we observed lowest clearing efficiency in the white matter as well as poor lipid removal reflected in low proton density reduction. Our results showed the feasibility of the regional mapping of clearing efficacy and correlating optical transparency and proton density changes using OCT and MRI from existing tissue clearing techniques. This novel quantitative mapping of clearing efficacy depending on tissue types and clearing methods may be helpful in the development of optimized clearing methods for different biological samples.
Project description:Rationale: Intravital optical imaging is a significant method for investigating cerebrovascular structure and function. However, its imaging contrast and depth are limited by the turbid skull. Tissue optical clearing has a great potential for solving this problem. Our goal was to develop a transparent skull window, without performing a craniotomy, for use in assessing cerebrovascular structure and function. Methods: Skull optical clearing agents were topically applied to the skulls of mice to create a transparent window within 15 min. The clearing efficacy, repeatability, and safety of the skull window were then investigated. Results: Imaging through the optical clearing skull window enhanced both the contrast and the depth of intravital imaging. The skull window could be used on 2-8-month-old mice and could be expanded from regional to bi-hemispheric. In addition, the window could be repeatedly established without inducing observable inflammation and metabolic toxicity. Conclusion: We successfully developed an easy-to-handle, large, switchable, and safe optical clearing skull window. Combined with various optical imaging techniques, cerebrovascular structure and function can be observed through this optical clearing skull window. Thus, it has the potential for use in basic research on the physiopathologic processes of cortical vessels.
Project description:Tissue clearing combined with deep imaging has emerged as a powerful alternative to classical histological techniques. Whereas current techniques have been optimized for imaging selected nonpigmented organs such as the mammalian brain, natural pigmentation remains challenging for most other biological specimens of larger volume. We have developed a fast DEpigmEntation-Plus-Clearing method (DEEP-Clear) that is easily incorporated in existing workflows and combines whole system labeling with a spectrum of detection techniques, ranging from immunohistochemistry to RNA in situ hybridization, labeling of proliferative cells (EdU labeling) and visualization of transgenic markers. With light-sheet imaging of whole animals and detailed confocal studies on pigmented organs, we provide unprecedented insight into eyes, whole nervous systems, and subcellular structures in animal models ranging from worms and squids to axolotls and zebrafish. DEEP-Clear thus paves the way for the exploration of species-rich clades and developmental stages that are largely inaccessible by regular imaging approaches.
Project description:Tissue-clearing techniques have received great attention for volume imaging and for the potential to be applied in optical diagnosis. In principle, tissue clearing is achieved by reducing light scattering through a combination of lipid removal, size change, and matching of the refractive index (RI) between the imaging solution and the tissue. However, the contributions of these major factors in tissue clearing have not been systematically evaluated yet. In this study, we experimentally measured and mathematically calculated the contribution of these factors to the clearing of four organs (brain, liver, kidney, and lung). We found that these factors differentially influence the maximal clearing efficacy of tissues and the diffusivity of materials inside the tissue. We propose that these physical properties of organs can be utilized for the quality control (Q/C) process during tissue clearing, as well as for the monitoring of the pathological changes of tissues.
Project description:Tissue optical clearing techniques have provided important tools for large-volume imaging. Aqueous-based clearing methods are known for good fluorescence preservation and scalable size maintenance, but are limited by long incubation time, insufficient clearing performance, or requirements for specialized devices. Additionally, few clearing methods are compatible with widely used lipophilic dyes while maintaining high clearing performance. Here, to address these issues, m-xylylenediamine (MXDA) is firstly introduced into tissue clearing and used to develop a rapid, highly efficient aqueous clearing method with robust lipophilic dyes compatibility, termed MXDA-based Aqueous Clearing System (MACS). MACS can render whole adult brains highly transparent within 2.5 days and is also applicable for other intact organs. Meanwhile, MACS possesses ideal compatibility with multiple probes, especially for lipophilic dyes. MACS achieves 3D imaging of the intact neural structures labeled by various techniques. Combining MACS with DiI labeling, MACS allows reconstruction of the detailed vascular structures of various organs and generates 3D pathology of glomeruli tufts in healthy and diabetic kidneys. Therefore, MACS provides a useful method for 3D mapping of intact tissues and is expected to facilitate morphological, physiological, and pathological studies of various organs.
Project description:Three-dimensional visualization of tissue structures using optical microscopy facilitates the understanding of biological functions. However, optical microscopy is limited in tissue penetration due to severe light scattering. Recently, a series of tissue-clearing techniques have emerged to allow significant depth-extension for fluorescence imaging. Inspired by these advances, we develop a volumetric chemical imaging technique that couples Raman-tailored tissue-clearing with stimulated Raman scattering (SRS) microscopy. Compared with the standard SRS, the clearing-enhanced SRS achieves greater than 10-times depth increase. Based on the extracted spatial distribution of proteins and lipids, our method reveals intricate 3D organizations of tumor spheroids, mouse brain tissues, and tumor xenografts. We further develop volumetric phasor analysis of multispectral SRS images for chemically specific clustering and segmentation in 3D. Moreover, going beyond the conventional label-free paradigm, we demonstrate metabolic volumetric chemical imaging, which allows us to simultaneously map out metabolic activities of protein and lipid synthesis in glioblastoma. Together, these results support volumetric chemical imaging as a valuable tool for elucidating comprehensive 3D structures, compositions, and functions in diverse biological contexts, complementing the prevailing volumetric fluorescence microscopy.
Project description:Recently, many super-resolution technologies have been demonstrated, significantly affecting biological studies by observation of cellular structures down to nanometer precision. However, current super-resolution techniques mostly rely on wavefront engineering or wide-field imaging of signal blinking or fluctuation, and thus imaging depths are limited due to tissue scattering or aberration. Here we present a technique that is capable of imaging through an intact Drosophila brain with 20-nm lateral resolution at ?200 ?m depth. The spatial resolution is provided by molecular localization of a photoconvertible fluorescent protein Kaede, whose red form is found to exhibit blinking state. The deep-tissue observation is enabled by optical sectioning of spinning disk microscopy, as well as reduced scattering from optical clearing. Together these techniques are readily available for many biologists, providing three-dimensional resolution of densely entangled dendritic fibers in a complete Drosophila brain. The method paves the way toward whole-brain neural network studies and is applicable to other high-resolution bioimaging.
Project description:Lymph node (LN) is an important immune organ that controls adaptive immune responses against foreign pathogens and abnormal cells. To facilitate efficient immune function, LN has highly organized 3D cellular structures, vascular and lymphatic system. Unfortunately, conventional histological analysis relying on thin-sliced tissue has limitations in 3D cellular analysis due to structural disruption and tissue loss in the processes of fixation and tissue slicing. Optical sectioning confocal microscopy has been utilized to analyze 3D structure of intact LN tissue without physical tissue slicing. However, light scattering within biological tissues limits the imaging depth only to superficial portion of LN cortex. Recently, optical clearing techniques have shown enhancement of imaging depth in various biological tissues, but their efficacy for LN are remained to be investigated. In this work, we established optical clearing procedure for LN and achieved 3D volumetric visualization of the whole cortex of LN. More than 4 times improvement in imaging depth was confirmed by using LN obtained from H2B-GFP/actin-DsRed double reporter transgenic mouse. With adoptive transfer of GFP expressing B cells and DsRed expressing T cells and fluorescent vascular labeling by anti-CD31 and anti-LYVE-1 antibody conjugates, we successfully visualized major cellular-level structures such as T-cell zone, B-cell follicle and germinal center. Further, we visualized the GFP expressing metastatic melanoma cell colony, vasculature and lymphatic vessels in the LN cortex.