Better 'optical clearing' makes transparent brains more stable

Sept. 14, 2015
New fluid saves brain structures for fluorescent and immunohistochemical labeling.

Researchers at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute (Wako-city, Japan) have, for a few years now, been working on a technique to allow brain researchers to easily see structures deep inside the (nonliving) brain. Called "optical clearing," it involves soaking a brain in fluids that infiltrate the brain and reduce optical scattering.

While previous fluids based on urea turned the brain transparent, the fluid would often damage the very brain structures that it was revealing. Now, the RIKEN researchers have created a new fluid variant that does not alter brain tissue.1 The method is called "ScaleS."

"The key ingredient of our new formula is sorbitol, a common sugar alcohol," says lead scientist Atsushi Miyawaki. "By combining sorbitol in the right proportion with urea, we could create transparent brains with minimal tissue damage that can handle both fluorescent and immunohistochemical labeling techniques, and is even effective in older animals."

The technique has already given new insights into diffuse Alzheimer's disease plaques as well as active microglial cells also associated with the disease.


1. Hiroshi Hama et al., Nature Neuroscience (2015); doi: 10.1038/nn.4107.


About the Author

John Wallace | Senior Technical Editor (1998-2022)

John Wallace was with Laser Focus World for nearly 25 years, retiring in late June 2022. He obtained a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and physics at Rutgers University and a master's in optical engineering at the University of Rochester. Before becoming an editor, John worked as an engineer at RCA, Exxon, Eastman Kodak, and GCA Corporation.

Sponsored Recommendations

Request a quote: Micro 3D Printed Part or microArch micro-precision 3D printers

April 11, 2024
See the results for yourself! We'll print a benchmark part so that you can assess our quality. Just send us your file and we'll get to work.

Request a free Micro 3D Printed sample part

April 11, 2024
The best way to understand the part quality we can achieve is by seeing it first-hand. Request a free 3D printed high-precision sample part.

How to Tune Servo Systems: The Basics

April 10, 2024
Learn how to tune a servo system using frequency-based tools to meet system specifications by watching our webinar!

Precision Motion Control for Sample Manipulation in Ultra-High Resolution Tomography

April 10, 2024
Learn the critical items that designers and engineers must consider when attempting to achieve reliable ultra-high resolution tomography results here!

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Laser Focus World, create an account today!