The 3D blood vessel map reveals the location of the stem cells


Johns Hopkins scientists used a combination of molecular labeling and imaging techniques to create a three-dimensional map of the blood vessels in the mouse skull. Their approach also reveals niches where stem cell populations hide, which could help researchers understand how blood vessels and cells behave in various states of disease or injury. Researchers are interested in tissue engineering to replace lost bone, and their new methodology could allow them to understand how interventions to repair bone defects in the skull, such as biomaterial implants, work.

Understanding the distribution of specific cell and blood vessel types within our body is not an easy task, and detailed maps are difficult to obtain. Part of the problem is the lack of transparency of our fabrics, which do not easily allow a detailed visualization. Tissue dissection allows for a bit of exploration, but it damages the delicate structures we want to see, making it difficult to get a global picture of the tissue of interest.

“We need to see what happens inside the skull, including the relative locations of blood vessels and cells and how its organization changes during injury and over time,” said Warren Grayson, a researcher involved in the study, in a Hopkins press release. To achieve this, their team has developed a series of tissue processing, staining and image imaging steps that allow them to create stunning 3D maps of the vessels and cells within the skull.

To begin with, the team used immunofluorescent stains to label specific cell types and blood vessels with identifying labels. They then used a chemical that reduces the opacity of the tissue, allowing light to penetrate. Researchers describe the cleaned fabric as a glass.

Finally, they used a lightsheet microscope to obtain high-resolution images of the skull area, without bleaching the fluorescent signals from the immunostarks. “This tool helps us prevent fluorescent dye deterioration when tissues are exposed to light sources for a long time,” said Alexandra Rindone, another researcher involved in the study.

The results are quite impressive, as researchers use the map to identify niches within the skull that contain stem cell communities. They may be able to target these regions to help with the healing process in repairing skull defects. These stem cell communities were previously unknown and reside near the transcortical canals within the skull.

Watch a video of a sample 3D tissue map below:

Study a Communications of nature: Quantitative 3D images of the cranial microvascular environment with unicellular resolution

Via: Johns Hopkins

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