At the University of Basel and University Hospital of Basel in Switzerland, researchers have developed a technique for 3D imaging tiny structures of the brain while accurately counting the number of specific cells in the sample.
The team used synchrotron radiation as opposed to traditional X-rays to measure the local phase shifts instead of signal absorption. The image resolution was so exceptional that it allowed for the visualization of the dendritic tree and nucleoli of Purkinje cells and so the identification of such cells. A computer algorithm was developed to identify these cells within the imaging data, allowing the system to count huge numbers of cells in a short amount of time.
The technique may open up a new window for neuroscientists to study the brain and develop new diagnostic and therapeutic methods.
From the study abstract in journal Scientific Reports:
Herein, we show that hard X-ray phase tomography can visualise a volume of up to 43 mm3of human post mortem or biopsy brain samples, by demonstrating the method on the cerebellum. We automatically identified 5,000 Purkinje cells with an error of less than 5% at their layer and determined the local surface density to 165 cells per mm2 on average. Moreover, we highlight that three-dimensional data allows for the segmentation of sub-cellular structures, including dendritic tree and Purkinje cell nucleoli, without dedicated staining.
Study in Scientific Reports: Tomographic brain imaging with nucleolar detail and automatic cell counting…
Via: University of Basel…