A method that combines tissue decolorization and light-sheet fluorescent microscopy has been devised by scientists. This method allows them to capture detailed images of individual organs or even entire organisms' interiors.
The discovery by researchers at the RIKEN Quantitative Biology Center in Japan has opened new possibilities for understanding the way life works, the ultimate dream of systems biology, by allowing scientists to make tissues and whole organisms transparent and then image them at extremely precise, single-cell resolution.
To achieve this feat, the researchers, led by Hiroki Ueda, began with a method called CUBIC (Clear, Unobstructed Brain Imaging Cocktails and Computational Analysis), which they had previously used to image whole brains.
Using the method, they took images of mouse brains, hearts, lungs, kidneys, and livers, and then went on to attempt the method on infant and adult mice, and found that in all cases they could get clear tissues.
Although these methods could not be used in living organisms, since they require the tissues to be fixed using reagents, they could, according to Kazuki Tainaka, be very useful for gaining new understanding of the 3D structure of organs and how certain genes are expressed in various tissues.
Ueda said that this new method could be used for 3D pathology, anatomical studies, and immunohistochemistry of entire organisms.
The study is published in Cell.