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Micron. 2012 Dec;43(12):1252-8. doi: 10.1016/j.micron.2012.02.010. Epub 2012 Mar 8.

AFM imaging of fenestrated liver sinusoidal endothelial cells.

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Australian Centre for Microscopy & Microanalysis, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.


Each microscope with its dedicated sample preparation technique provides the investigator with a specific set of data giving an instrument-determined (or restricted) insight into the structure and function of a tissue, a cell or parts thereof. Stepwise improvements in existing techniques, both instrumental and preparative, can sometimes cross barriers in resolution and image quality. Of course, investigators get really excited when completely new principles of microscopy and imaging are offered in promising new instruments, such as the AFM. The present paper summarizes a first phase of studies on the thin endothelial cells of the liver. It describes the preparation-dependent differences in AFM imaging of these cells after isolation. Special point of interest concerned the dynamics of the fenestrae, thought to filter lipid-carrying particles during their transport from the blood to the liver cells. It also describes the attempts to image the details of these cells when alive in cell cultures. It explains what physical conditions, mainly contributed to the scanning stylus, are thought to play a part in the limitations in imaging these cells. The AFM also offers promising specifications to those interested in cell surface details, such as membrane-associated structures, receptors, coated pits, cellular junctions and molecular aggregations or domains. The AFM also offers nano-manipulation possibilities, strengths and elasticity measurements, force interactions, affinity measurements, stiffness and other physical aspects of membranes and cytoskeleton. The potential for molecular approaches is there. New developments in cantilever construction and computer software promise to bring real time video imaging to the AFM. Home made accessories for the first generation of AFM are now commodities in commercial instruments and make the life of the AFM microscopist easier. Also, the combination of different microscopies, such as AFM and TEM, or AFM and SEM find their way to the market allowing comfortable correlative microscopy.

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