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Opt Express. 2005 May 30;13(11):4210-23.

Three-dimensional imaging of single isolated cell nuclei using optical projection tomography.


A method is presented for imaging single isolated cell nuclei in 3D, employing computed tomographic image reconstruction. The system uses a scanning objective lens to create an extended depth-of-field (DOF) image similar to a projection or shadowgram. A microfabricated inverted v-groove allows a microcapillary tube to be rotated with sub-micron precision, and refractive index matching within 0.02 both inside and outside the tube keeps optical distortion low. Cells or bare cell nuclei are injected into the tube and imaged in 250 angular increments from 0 to 180 degrees to collect 250 extended DOF images. After these images are further aligned, the filtered backprojection algorithm is applied to compute the 3D image. To estimate the cutoff spatial frequency in the projection image, a spatial frequency ratio function is calculated by comparing the extended depth-of-field image of a typical cell nucleus to the fixed focus image. To assess loss of resolution from fixed focus image to extended DOF image to 3D reconstructed image, the 10-90% rise distance is measured for a dyed microsphere. The resolution is found to be 0.9 microm for both extended DOF images and 3D reconstructed images. Surface and translucent volume renderings and cross-sectional slices of the 3D images are shown of a stained nucleus from fibroblast and cancer cell cultures with added color histogram mapping to highlight 3D chromatin structure.

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