Three-dimensional virtual histology enabled through cytoplasm-specific X-ray stain for microscopic and nanoscopic computed tomography

Research Highlight

X-ray imaging moves a shade closer to replacing scalpels

© ALFRED PASIEKA/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty

© ALFRED PASIEKA/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty

Improved tissue staining can help imaging technology peer inside organs without damaging them.

Computed tomography (CT) scanning uses software-based reconstruction techniques to turn multiple 2D X-ray scans of body tissue into detailed 3D images. Researchers from the Technical University of Munich have now developed a procedure that can enhance CT scanning of intricate biological features.

CT scanning often uses contrast agents, chemicals that penetrate specific bioregions to provide a contrasting X-ray signal against a uniform background. The team reports a way to produce CT images with sub-micrometre resolution using a nontoxic organic dye. They improved the uptake of the dye by cell cytoplasm, increasing image contrast, by using acid treatments to render it susceptible to amino-acid bonding.

Experiments showed that the new staining protocol could visualize structures, including an intact mouse kidney, with enough clarity for diagnostic purposes.

Supported content

  1. PNAS 115, 2293–2298 (2018). doi: 10.1073/pnas.1720862115
Institutions FC
TUM Munich School of Bioengineering (MSB), Germany 0.42
TUM Department of Physics, Germany 0.42
TUM Institut für Diagnostische und Interventionelle Radiologie, Germany 0.17

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