Imaging brain tissues is an essential part of neuroscience because understanding brain structure provides relevant information about brain functions and alterations associated with diseases. Magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography exemplify conventional brain imaging tools, but these techniques suffer from low spatial resolution around 100 μm. As a complementary method, histopathology has been utilized with the development of optical microscopy. The traditional method provides the structural information about biological tissues to cellular scales, but relies on labor-intensive staining procedures. With the advances of illumination sources, label-free imaging techniques based on nonlinear interactions, such as multiphoton excitations and Raman scattering, have been applied to molecule-specific histopathology. Nevertheless, these techniques provide limited qualitative information and require a pulsed laser, which is difficult to use for pathologists with no laser training.
Here, we present a label-free optical imaging of mouse brain tissues for addressing structural alteration in Alzheimer’s disease. To achieve the mesoscopic, unlabeled tissue images with high contrast and sub-micrometer lateral resolution, we employed holographic microscopy and an automated scanning platform. From the acquired hologram of the brain tissues, we could retrieve scattering coefficients and anisotropies according to the modified scattering-phase theorem. This label-free imaging technique enabled direct access to structural information throughout the tissues with a sub-micrometer lateral resolution and presented a unique means to investigate the structural changes in the optical properties of biological tissues.