27 February 2009 Cryo-imaging of fluorescently labeled single cells in a mouse
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We developed a cryo-imaging system to provide single-cell detection of fluorescently labeled cells in mouse, with particular applicability to stem cells and metastatic cancer. The Case cryoimaging system consists of a fluorescence microscope, robotic imaging positioner, customized cryostat, PC-based control system, and visualization/analysis software. The system alternates between sectioning (10-40 μm) and imaging, collecting color brightfield and fluorescent blockface image volumes >60GB. In mouse experiments, we imaged quantum-dot labeled stem cells, GFP-labeled cancer and stem cells, and cell-size fluorescent microspheres. To remove subsurface fluorescence, we used a simplified model of light-tissue interaction whereby the next image was scaled, blurred, and subtracted from the current image. We estimated scaling and blurring parameters by minimizing entropy of subtracted images. Tissue specific attenuation parameters were found [uT : heart (267 ± 47.6 μm), liver (218 ± 27.1 μm), brain (161 ± 27.4 μm)] to be within the range of estimates in the literature. "Next image" processing removed subsurface fluorescence equally well across multiple tissues (brain, kidney, liver, adipose tissue, etc.), and analysis of 200 microsphere images in the brain gave 97±2% reduction of subsurface fluorescence. Fluorescent signals were determined to arise from single cells based upon geometric and integrated intensity measurements. Next image processing greatly improved axial resolution, enabled high quality 3D volume renderings, and improved enumeration of single cells with connected component analysis by up to 24%. Analysis of image volumes identified metastatic cancer sites, found homing of stem cells to injury sites, and showed microsphere distribution correlated with blood flow patterns. We developed and evaluated cryo-imaging to provide single-cell detection of fluorescently labeled cells in mouse. Our cryo-imaging system provides extreme (>60GB), micron-scale, fluorescence, and bright field image data. Here we describe our image preprocessing, analysis, and visualization techniques. Processing improves axial resolution, reduces subsurface fluorescence by 97%, and enables single cell detection and counting. High quality 3D volume renderings enable us to evaluate cell distribution patterns. Applications include the myriad of biomedical experiments using fluorescent reporter gene and exogenous fluorophore labeling of cells in applications such as stem cell regenerative medicine, cancer, tissue engineering, etc.
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Grant J. Steyer, Debashish Roy, Olivier Salvado, Meredith E. Stone, and David L. Wilson "Cryo-imaging of fluorescently labeled single cells in a mouse", Proc. SPIE 7262, Medical Imaging 2009: Biomedical Applications in Molecular, Structural, and Functional Imaging, 72620W (27 February 2009); doi: 10.1117/12.812982; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.812982

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