Argonne researchers use mice to hone imaging technology

  • A team of scientists at Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago visualized an entire mouse brain from synapses on up.

    A team of scientists at Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago visualized an entire mouse brain from synapses on up. Sean Foxley/Argonne National Laboratory

 
Posted7/12/2021 2:46 PM

LEMONT -- Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago have imaged a whole mouse brain across five orders of magnitude of resolution, which they say will better connect existing imaging approaches and uncover new details about the structure of the brain.

Researchers are using this technique to explore important questions in neuroscience, such as how Alzheimer's disease develops.

 

This research, published inNeuroImage, was accomplished in part using the resources of the Advanced Photon Source, a U.S. Department of Energy facility. Scientists leveraged existing X-ray microscopy techniques to create a bridge between magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and electron microscopy imaging, providing a pipeline for using multiple methods to image the same brain at different scales, Argonne said.

"Our lab is really interested in mapping brains at multiple scales to get an unbiased description of what brains look like," said senior author Narayanan "Bobby" Kasthuri, assistant professor at UChicago and a scientist at Argonne. "When I joined the faculty here, one of the first things I learned was that Argonne has this extremely powerful X-ray microscope, and that it hadn't been used for brain mapping yet, so we decided to try it out."

Using X-ray tomography, researchers were able to image the entire mouse brain -- roughly one cubic centimeter -- at the resolution of a micron. It took roughly six hours to collect images, which is one of the fastest approaches for whole-brain imaging at this level of resolution.

"Why did we choose the mouse brain? Because it fits in the microscope," Kasthuri said with a laugh. "But also, the mouse is the workhorse of neuroscience; they're very useful for analyzing different experimental conditions in the brain."

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