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Cytometry A. 2007 Dec;71(12):991-1002.

Three-dimensional tissue cytometer based on high-speed multiphoton microscopy.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.


Image cytometry technology has been extended to 3D based on high-speed multiphoton microscopy. This technique allows in situ study of tissue specimens preserving important cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix interactions. The imaging system was based on high-speed multiphoton microscopy (HSMPM) for 3D deep tissue imaging with minimal photodamage. Using appropriate fluorescent labels and a specimen translation stage, we could quantify cellular and biochemical states of tissues in a high throughput manner. This approach could assay tissue structures with subcellular resolution down to a few hundred micrometers deep. Its throughput could be quantified by the rate of volume imaging: 1.45 mm(3)/h with high resolution. For a tissue containing tightly packed, stratified cellular layers, this rate corresponded to sampling about 200 cells/s. We characterized the performance of 3D tissue cytometer by quantifying rare cell populations in 2D and 3D specimens in vitro. The measured population ratios, which were obtained by image analysis, agreed well with the expected ratios down to the ratio of 1/10(5). This technology was also applied to the detection of rare skin structures based on endogenous fluorophores. Sebaceous glands and a cell cluster at the base of a hair follicle were identified. Finally, the 3D tissue cytometer was applied to detect rare cells that had undergone homologous mitotic recombination in a novel transgenic mouse model, where recombination events could result in the expression of enhanced yellow fluorescent protein in the cells. 3D tissue cytometry based on HSMPM demonstrated its screening capability with high sensitivity and showed the possibility of studying cellular and biochemical states in tissues in situ. This technique will significantly expand the scope of cytometric studies to the biomedical problems where spatial and chemical relationships between cells and their tissue environments are important.

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