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Cold Spring Harb Protoc. 2011 Sep 1;2011(9). pii: pdb.prot065474. doi: 10.1101/pdb.prot065474.

Transcranial two-photon imaging of the living mouse brain.


This protocol describes imaging of the living mouse brain through a thinned skull using two-photon microscopy. This transcranial two-photon laser-scanning microscope (TPLSM) imaging method allows high-resolution imaging of fluorescently labeled neurons, microglia, astrocytes, and blood vessels, as well as subcellular structures such as dendritic spines and axonal varicosities. The surgical procedure that is required to allow imaging thins the cranium so that it becomes optically transparent. Once learned, the surgery can be performed in ∼30 min, and imaging can follow immediately. The procedure can be repeated multiple times, allowing brain cells and tissues to be studied in the same animals over short or long time intervals, depending on the design of the experiment. Two-photon imaging through a thinned and intact skull avoids side effects caused by skull removal and is a minimally invasive method for studying the living mouse brain under physiological and pathological conditions.

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