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Genesis. 2002 Dec;34(4):228-35.

Dynamic in vivo imaging of postimplantation mammalian embryos using whole embryo culture.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California.


Due to the internal nature of mammalian development, much of the research performed is of a static nature and depends on interpolation between stages of development. This approach cannot explore the dynamic interactions that are essential for normal development. While roller culture overcomes the problem of inaccessibility of the embryo, the constant motion of the medium and embryos makes it impossible to observe and record development. We have developed a static mammalian culture system for imaging development of the mouse embryo. Using this technique, it is possible to sustain normal development for periods of 18-24 h. The success of the culture was evaluated based on the rate of embryo turning, heart rate, somite addition, and several gross morphological features. When this technique is combined with fluorescent markers, it is possible to follow the development of specific tissues or the movement of cells. To highlight some of the strengths of this approach, we present time-lapse movies of embryonic turning, somite addition, closure of the neural tube, and fluorescent imaging of blood circulation in the yolk sac and embryo.

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