Integration of optical clearing and optical sectioning microscopy for three-dimensional imaging of natural biomaterial scaffolds in thin sections

Journal of Biomedical Optics
S-Ja TsengShiue-Cheng Tang


The intrinsic turbidity of scaffolds formed by natural biomaterials such as collagen fibers prevents high-resolution light microscopy in depth. In this research, we have developed a new method of using light microscopy for penetrative three-dimensional (3-D) visualization of scaffolds formed by collagen, chitosan, or cellulose. First, we applied an optical-clearing solution, FocusClear, to permeate and reduce the turbidity of the scaffolds. The improved photon penetration allowed fluorophores for efficient excitation and emission in the FocusClear solution. Confocal microscopy was applied to achieve cellular-level resolution up to 350 microm for both the fibroblast/collagen and the osteoblast/chitosan constructs and micrometer-level resolution up to 40 microm for the cellulose membrane. The depth of imaging of the cellulose membrane was further improved to 80 microm using two-photon microscopy. Significantly, these voxel-based confocal/two-photon micrographs allowed postrecording image processing via Amira projection algorithms for 3-D visualization and analysis of the scanned region. Although this optical method remains limited in viewing block scaffolds in thin sections, our approach provides a noninvasive way to microscopica...Continue Reading


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