Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Clear as Rainbows

An ultrafast tissue clearing method that preserves fluorescence in nerve cell imaging

17 September 2022

Clear as Rainbows

Finding a cell in a tissue can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. That’s why before imaging tissues, researchers make them transparent in a process called tissue clearing. However, current tissue-clearing techniques are complicated, time-consuming and weaken the signal of fluorescent tags used to label proteins. Researchers now present a fast, convenient method to clear tissues using an alkaline solution — the alkaline environment maintains the fluorescence of the most commonly used fluorescent tag, GFP, and its variants. The solution effectively cleared slices of human brains, mouse brains (pictured) and other mouse organs, and was compatible with various fluorescent tags and dyes. This allowed the team to clearly track fluorescently-tagged nerve fibres (left and middle zoom) through the full depth of the tissue (end panel) – different depths are represented by different colours. This approach also enabled 3D reconstructions, cell counting and other helpful measures for biomedical research.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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