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J Microsc. 1992 Feb;165(Pt 2):191-223.

Real-time quantitative elemental analysis and mapping: microchemical imaging in cell physiology.

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Department of Cell Biology, School of Medicine, Duke University, Durham, NC 27710.


Recent advances in widely available microcomputers have made the acquisition and processing of digital quantitative X-ray maps of one to several cells readily feasible. Here we describe a system which uses a graphics-based microcomputer to acquire spectrally filtered X-ray elemental image maps that are fitted to standards, to display the image in real time, and to correct the post-acquisition image map with regard to specimen drift. Both high-resolution quantitative energy-dispersive X-ray images of freeze-dried cyrosections and low-dose quantitative bright-field images of frozen-hydrated sections can be acquired to obtain element and water content from the same intracellular regions. The software programs developed, together with the associated hardware, also allow static probe acquisition of data from selected cell regions with spectral processing and quantification performed on-line in real time. In addition, the unified design of the software program provides for off-line processing and analysing by several investigators at microcomputers remote from the microscope. The overall experimental strategy employs computer-aided imaging, combined with static probes, as an essential interactive tool of investigation for biological analysis. This type of microchemical microscopy facilitates studies in cell physiology and pathophysiology which focus on mechanisms of ionic (elemental) compartmentation, i.e. structure-function correlation at cellular and subcellular levels; it allows investigation of intracellular concentration gradients, of the heterogeneity of cell responses to stimuli, of certain fast physiological events in vivo at ultrastructural resolution, and of events occurring with low incidence or involving cell-to-cell interactions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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