Three-dimensional printing allows for the production of highly detailed objects through a process known as additive manufacturing. Traditional, mold-injection methods to create models or parts have several limitations, the most important of which is a difficulty in making highly complex products in a timely, cost-effective manner.1 However, gradual improvements in three-dimensional printing technology have resulted in both high-end and economy instruments that are now available for the facile production of customized models.2 These printers have the ability to extrude high-resolution objects with enough detail to accurately represent in vivo images generated from a preclinical X-ray CT scanner. With proper data collection, surface rendering, and stereolithographic editing, it is now possible and inexpensive to rapidly produce detailed skeletal and soft tissue structures from X-ray CT data. Even in the early stages of development, the anatomical models produced by three-dimensional printing appeal to both educators and researchers who can utilize the technology to improve visualization proficiency. 3, 4 The real benefits of this method result from the tangible experience a researcher can have with data that cannot be adequately conveyed through a computer screen. The translation of pre-clinical 3D data to a physical object that is an exact copy of the test subject is a powerful tool for visualization and communication, especially for relating imaging research to students, or those in other fields. Here, we provide a detailed method for printing plastic models of bone and organ structures derived from X-ray CT scans utilizing an Albira X-ray CT system in conjunction with PMOD, ImageJ, Meshlab, Netfabb, and ReplicatorG software packages.
Medicine; Issue 73; Anatomy; Physiology; Molecular Biology; Biomedical Engineering; Bioengineering; Chemistry; Biochemistry; Materials Science; Engineering; Manufactured Materials; Technology; Animal Structures; Life Sciences (General); 3D printing; X-ray Computed Tomography; CT; CT scans; data extrusion; additive printing; in vivo imaging; clinical techniques; imaging
Numerous obesity studies have coupled murine models with non-invasive methods to quantify body composition in longitudinal experiments, including X-ray computed tomography (CT) or quantitative nuclear magnetic resonance (QMR). Both microCT and QMR have been separately validated with invasive techniques of adipose tissue quantification, like post-mortem fat extraction and measurement. Here we report a head-to-head study of both protocols using oil phantoms and mouse populations to determine the parameters that best align CT data with that from QMR. First, an in vitro analysis of oil/water mixtures was used to calibrate and assess the overall accuracy of microCT vs. QMR data. Next, experiments were conducted with two cohorts of living mice (either homogenous or heterogeneous by sex, age and genetic backgrounds) to assess the microCT imaging technique for adipose tissue segmentation and quantification relative to QMR. Adipose mass values were obtained from microCT data with three different resolutions, after which the data were analyzed with different filter and segmentation settings. Strong linearity was noted between the adipose mass values obtained with microCT and QMR, with optimal parameters and scan conditions reported herein. Lean tissue (muscle, internal organs) was also segmented and quantified using the microCT method relative to the analogous QMR values. Overall, the rigorous calibration and validation of the microCT method for murine body composition, relative to QMR, ensures its validity for segmentation, quantification and visualization of both adipose and lean tissues.
X-ray CT; microCT; computed tomography; QMR; quantitative magnetic resonance; adipose tissue; body composition; obesity
Over the past 20 years, multimodal imaging strategies have motivated the fusion of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) or Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) scans with an X-ray computed tomography (CT) image to provide anatomical information, as well as a framework with which molecular and functional images may be co-registered. Recently, pre-clinical nuclear imaging technology has evolved to capture multiple SPECT or multiple PET tracers to further enhance the information content gathered within an imaging experiment. However, the use of SPECT and PET probes together, in the same animal, has remained a challenge. Here we describe a straightforward method using an integrated trimodal imaging system and a sequential dosing/acquisition protocol to achieve dual tracer imaging with 99mTc and 18F isotopes, along with anatomical CT, on an individual specimen. Dosing and imaging is completed so that minimal animal manipulations are required, full trimodal fusion is conserved, and tracer crosstalk including down-scatter of the PET tracer in SPECT mode is avoided. This technique will enhance the ability of preclinical researchers to detect multiple disease targets and perform functional, molecular, and anatomical imaging on individual specimens to increase the information content gathered within longitudinal in vivo studies.
Dual tracer imaging; trimodal imaging; Positron Emission Tomography (PET); Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT); X-ray Computed Tomography (CT); nuclear imaging
Inhibitor of DNA binding 2 (ID2) is a helix-loop-helix transcriptional repressor rhythmically expressed in many adult tissues. Our earlier studies have demonstrated a role for ID2 in the input pathway, core clock function and output pathways of the mouse circadian system. We have also reported that Id2 null (Id2−/−) mice are lean with low gonadal white adipose tissue deposits and lower lipid content in the liver. These results coincided with altered or disrupted circadian expression profiles of liver genes including those involved in lipid metabolism. In the present phenotypic study we intended to decipher, on a sex-specific basis, the role of ID2 in glucose metabolism and in the circadian regulation of activity, important components of energy balance. We find that Id2−/− mice exhibited altered daily and circadian rhythms of feeding and locomotor activity; activity profiles extended further into the late night/dark phase of the 24-hr cycle, despite mice showing reduced total locomotor activity. Also, male Id2−/− mice consumed a greater amount of food relative to body mass, and displayed less weight gain. Id2−/− females had smaller adipocytes, suggesting sexual-dimorphic programing of adipogenesis. We observed increased glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in male Id2−/− mice, which was exacerbated in older animals. FDG-PET analysis revealed increased glucose uptake by skeletal muscle and brown adipose tissue of male Id2−/− mice, suggesting increased glucose metabolism and thermogenesis in these tissues. Reductions in intramuscular triacylglycerol and diacylglycerol were detected in male Id2−/− mice, highlighting its possible mechanistic role in enhanced insulin sensitivity in these mice. Our findings indicate a role for ID2 as a regulator of glucose and lipid metabolism, and in the circadian control of feeding/locomotor behavior; and contribute to the understanding of the development of obesity and diabetes, particularly in shift work personnel among whom incidence of such metabolic disorders is elevated.
X-ray Computed Tomography (CT) is one of the most commonly utilized anatomical imaging modalities for both research and clinical purposes. CT combines high-resolution, three-dimensional data with relatively fast acquisition to provide a solid platform for non-invasive human or specimen imaging. The primary limitation of CT is its inability to distinguish many soft tissues based on native contrast. While bone has high contrast within a CT image due to its material density from calcium phosphate, soft tissue is less dense and many are homogenous in density. This presents a challenge in distinguishing one type of soft tissue from another. A couple exceptions include the lungs as well as fat, both of which have unique densities owing to the presence of air or bulk hydrocarbons, respectively. In order to facilitate X-ray CT imaging of other structures, a range of contrast agents have been developed to selectively identify and visualize the anatomical properties of individual tissues. Most agents incorporate atoms like iodine, gold, or barium because of their ability to absorb X-rays, and thus impart contrast to a given organ system. Here we review the strategies available to visualize lung, fat, brain, kidney, liver, spleen, vasculature, gastrointestinal tract, and liver tissues of living mice using either innate contrast, or commercial injectable or ingestible agents with selective perfusion. Further, we demonstrate how each of these approaches will facilitate the non-invasive, longitudinal, in vivo imaging of pre-clinical disease models at each anatomical site.
X-ray CT; computed tomography; X-ray contrast agents; review; lungs; adipose; gi tract; vasculature; kidney; liver
Cell death is a fundamental biological process that is present in numerous disease pathologies. Fluorescent probes that detect cell death have been developed for a myriad of research applications ranging from microscopy to in vivo imaging. Here we describe a synthetic near infrared conjugate of zinc(II)-dipicolylamine (Zn2+-DPA) for in vivo imaging of cell death. Chemically induced in vivo models of myopathy were established using an ionphore, ethanol, or ketamine as chemical cytotoxins. The Zn2+-DPA fluorescent probe or corresponding control was subsequently injected and whole animal fluorescence imaging demonstrated probe uptake at the site of muscle damage, which was confirmed by ex vivo and histological analyses. Further, a comparative study with a near-infrared fluorescent conjugate Annexin V showed less intense uptake at the site of muscle damage and high accumulation in the bladder. The results indicate that the fluorescent Zn2+-DPA conjugate is an effective probe for in vivo cell death detection and in some cases may be an appropriate alternative to fluorescent Annexin V conjugates.
in vivo imaging; cell death; near-infrared probe; zinc-dipicolylamine; annexin V; ketamine
Hydraphiles are a class of synthetic ion channels that now have a twenty-year history of analysis and success. In early studies, these compounds were rigorously validated in a wide range of in vitro assays including liposomal ion flow detected by NMR or ion-selective electrodes, as well as biophysical experiments in planar bilayers. During the past decade, biological activity was observed for these compounds including toxicity to bacteria, yeast, and mammalian cells due to stress caused by the disruption of ion homeostasis. The channel mechanism was verified in cells using membrane polarity sensitive dyes, as well as patch clamping studies. This body of work has provided a solid foundation with which hydraphiles have recently demonstrated acute biological toxicity in the muscle tissue of living mice, as measured by whole animal fluorescence imaging and histological studies. Here we review the critical structure-activity relationships in the hydraphile family of compounds and the in vitro and in cellulo experiments that have validated their channel behavior. This report culminates with a description of recently reported efforts in which these molecules have demonstrated activity in living mice.
Using a micro-PET/CT scanner, we have measured 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose uptake in interscapular brown adipose tissue (iBAT) in C57Bl/6 mice at intervals across a 24-hour light-dark cycle. Our data reveals a strong 24-hour profile of glucose uptake of iBAT, peaking at approximately 9 hours into the light phase of the 12 hour light, 12 hour dark day. BAT is increasingly gaining attention as being involved in metabolic phenotypes and obesity, where BAT, as observed by PET analysis, negatively correlates with obesity and age. Conversely, animals that show perturbations in circadian clocks, behavior and physiology show metabolic phenotypes. The observation of a 24-hour rhythm in glucose uptake in iBAT makes this tissue a candidate site of interaction between metabolic and circadian systems.
Many bacteria spread over surfaces by “swarming” in groups. A problem for scientists who study swarming is the acquisition of statistically significant data that distinguish two observations or detail the temporal patterns and two-dimensional heterogeneities that occur. It is currently difficult to quantify differences between observed swarm phenotypes. Here, we present a method for acquisition of temporal surface motility data using time-lapse fluorescence and bioluminescence imaging. We specifically demonstrate three applications of our technique with the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa. First, we quantify the temporal distribution of P. aeruginosa cells tagged with green fluorescent protein (GFP) and the surfactant rhamnolipid stained with the lipid dye Nile red. Second, we distinguish swarming of P. aeruginosa and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium in a coswarming experiment. Lastly, we quantify differences in swarming and rhamnolipid production of several P. aeruginosa strains. While the best swarming strains produced the most rhamnolipid on surfaces, planktonic culture rhamnolipid production did not correlate with surface growth rhamnolipid production.
Using positron emission tomography, we measured in vivo uptake of 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) in the brain and heart of C57Bl/6 mice at intervals across a 24-hour light-dark cycle. Our data describe a significant, high amplitude rhythm in FDG uptake throughout the whole brain, peaking at the mid-dark phase of the light-dark cycle, which is the active phase for nocturnal mice. Under these conditions, heart FDG uptake did not vary with time of day, but did show biological variation throughout the 24-hour period for measurements within the same mice. FDG uptake was scanned at different times of day within an individual mouse, and also compared to different times of day between individuals, showing both biological and technical reproducibility of the 24-hour pattern in FDG uptake. Regional analysis of brain FDG uptake revealed especially high amplitude rhythms in the olfactory bulb and cortex, while low amplitude rhythms were observed in the amygdala, brain stem and hypothalamus. Low amplitude 24-hour rhythms in regional FDG uptake may be due to multiple rhythms with different phases in a single brain structure, quenching some of the amplitude. Our data show that the whole brain exhibits significant, high amplitude daily variation in glucose uptake in living mice. Reports applying the 2-deoxy-D[14C]-glucose method for the quantitative determination of the rates of local cerebral glucose utilization indicate only a small number of brain regions exhibiting a day versus night variation in glucose utilization. In contrast, our data show 24-hour patterns in glucose uptake in most of the brain regions examined, including several regions that do not show a difference in glucose utilization. Our data also emphasizes a methodological requirement of controlling for the time of day of scanning FDG uptake in the brain in both clinical and pre-clinical settings, and suggests waveform normalization of FDG measurements at different times of the day.
Two structurally related fluorescent imaging probes allow optical imaging of bacterial leg infection models in living athymic and immunocompetent mice. Structurally, the probes are comprised of a deep-red fluorescent squaraine rotaxane scaffold with two appended bis(zinc(II)-dicolylamine) (bis(Zn-DPA)) targeting ligands. The bis(Zn-DPA) ligands have high affinity for the anionic phospholipids and related biomolecules that reside within the bacterial envelope, and they are known to selectively target bacterial cells over the nearly uncharged membrane surfaces of healthy mammalian cells. Planar, whole-animal optical imaging studies showed that intravenous dosing of either probe (10 nmol) allowed imaging of localized infections of Gram-positive Staphylococcus aureus and Gram-negative Salmonella enterica serovar typhimurium. High selectivity for the infected target leg (T) over the contralateral non-target leg (NT) was reflected by T/NT ratios up to six. The infection imaging signal was independent of mouse humoral immune status, and there was essentially no targeting at a site of sterile inflammation induced by injection of λ-carrageenan. Furthermore, the fluorescent probe imaging signal colocalized with the bioluminescence signal from a genetically engineered strain of S. enterica serovar typhimurium. Although not highly sensitive (the localized infection must contain at least ~106 colony forming units for fluorescence visualization) the probes are remarkably selective for bacterial cells considering their low molecular weight (<1.5 kDa) and simple structural design. The more hydrophilic of the two probes produced a higher T/NT ratio in the early stages of the imaging experiment and washed out more rapidly from the blood clearance organs (liver, kidney). Therefore, it is best suited for longitudinal studies that require repeated dosing and imaging of the same animal. The results indicate that fluorescent probes based on squaraine rotaxanes should be broadly useful for in vivo animal imaging studies, and they further validate the ability of imaging probes with bis(Zn-DPA) ligands to selectively target bacterial infections in living animals.
Optical molecular imaging employs relatively harmless, low-energy light and technically straightforward instrumentation. Self-illuminating, chemiluminescent systems are especially attractive since they have inherently high signal contrast due to the lack of background emission. Currently, chemiluminescence imaging involves short-lived molecular species that are not stored but instead generated in situ, and they typically emit visible light, which does not penetrate far through heterogeneous biological media. Here, we describe a new paradigm for optical molecular imaging using squaraine rotaxane endoperoxides (SREPs), interlocked fluorescent and chemiluminescent dye molecules that have a squaraine chromophore encapsulated inside a macrocycle endoperoxide. SREPs can be stored indefinitely at temperatures below −20 °C, but upon warming to body temperature they undergo a unimolecular chemical reaction and emit near infrared light that can pass through a living mouse. Dye-stained microparticles are easily prepared for in vivo near-infrared optical imaging using commercial imaging stations.
In vivo optical imaging shows that a fluorescent imaging probe, comprised of a near-infrared fluorophore attached to an affinity group containing two zinc(II)-dipicolylamine (Zn-DPA) units, targets prostate and mammary tumors in two different xenograft animal models. The tumor selectivity is absent with control fluorophores whose structures do not have appended Zn-DPA targeting ligands. Ex vivo biodistribution and histological analyses indicate that the probe is targeting the necrotic regions of the tumors, which is consistent with in vitro microscopy showing selective targeting of the anionic membrane surfaces of dead and dying cells.
cell recognition; dyes/pigments; fluorescence; imaging agents; rotaxane
Optical imaging of bacterial infection in living animals is usually conducted with genetic reporters such as light emitting enzymes or fluorescent proteins. However, there are many circumstances where genetic reporters are not applicable, and there is a need for exogenous synthetic probes that can selectively target bacteria. The focus of this study is a fluorescent imaging probe that is composed of a bacterial affinity group conjugated to a near infrared dye. The affinity group is a synthetic zinc (II) coordination complex that targets the anionic surfaces of bacterial cells. The probe allows detection of Staphylococcus aureus infection (5 × 107 cells) in a mouse leg infection model using whole animal near infrared fluorescence imaging. Region of interest analysis showed that the signal ratio for infected leg to uninfected leg reaches 3.9 ± 0.5 at 21 h post-injection of the probe. Ex vivo imaging of the organs produced a signal ratio of 8 for infected to uninfected leg. Immunohistochemical analysis confirmed that the probe targeted the bacterial cells in the infected tissue. Optimization of the imaging filter set lowered the background signal due to autofluorescence and substantially improved imaging contrast. The study shows that near infrared molecular probes are amenable to non-invasive optical imaging of localized S. aureus infection.
It is 25 years since the first report of a synthetic ion channel transporter. Today, dozens of molecular and supramolecular designs have been developed to facilitate ion and small molecule transport across a bilayer membrane. Presented here is a concise summary of the advances made over the past four years. The transporters are grouped into three mechanistic classes: mobile carrier, monomeric channel, and self-assembled pore. Common building blocks are crown ethers, steroids, cyclodextrins, peptides, curcubiturils, and calixarenes. The eventual goal is to produce functional supramolecular devices such as sensors, enzyme assays, and lead candidates for pharmaceutical development.
Membrane transport; Ionosphere; Ion channel; Mobile carrier; Membrane pore; Self-assembly; Phospholipid bilayer
Over the last thirteen years, the field of optical imaging has expanded from in vitro fluorescence microscopy of cells to in vivo imaging of living animals. Recent advances in optical imaging of bacterial infection have been propelled by the invention of genetic methods that produce fluorescent and bioluminescent bacteria, and also the discovery of synthetic fluorescent probes that selectively target bacterial cell surfaces. Optical imaging is an effective method of conducting longitudinal studies of bacterial infection in small animals such as nude mice. It can be used to address questions in medical microbiology concerning migration and colonization and it is an attractive method for determining the efficacy of antibiotic therapies.
Molecular probes with zinc(II)-(2,2’-dipicolylamine) coordination complexes associate with oxyanions in aqueous solution and target biomembranes that contain anionic phospholipids. This study examines a new series of coordination complexes with 2,6-bis(zinc(II)-dipicolylamine) phenoxide as the molecular recognition unit. Two lipophilic analogues are observed to partition into the membranes of zwitterionic and anionic vesicles and induce the transport of phospholipids and hydrophilic anions (carboxyfluorescein). These lipophilic zinc complexes are moderately toxic to mammalian cells. A more hydrophilic analogue does not exhibit mammalian cell toxicity (LD50 >50 µg/mL), but it is highly active against the Gram-positive bacteria Staphylococcus aureus (MIC of 1 µg/mL). Furthermore, it is active against clinically important S. aureus strains that are resistant to various antibiotics including vancomycin and oxacillin. The antibiotic action is attributed to its ability to depolarize the bacterial cell membrane. The intense bacterial staining exhibited by a fluorescent conjugate suggests that this family of zinc coordination complexes can be used as molecular probes for the detection and imaging of bacteria.
antibiotics; phospholipid; fluorescent probes; zinc; transport
Fluorescent quantum dots coated with zinc(II)-dipicolylamine coordination complexes can selectively stain a rough Escherichia coli mutant that lacks an O-antigen element and permit optical detection in a living mouse leg infection model.
An Ussing chamber was used to demonstrate that synthetic amphiphilic anion transporters function as chloride transporters in mammalian airway epithelial cells.
Hydraphile compounds have been prepared in which certain of the amine nitrogens have been replaced by amide residues. The amide bonds are present either in the sidearm, the side chain, or the central relay. Sodium cation transport through phospholipid vesicles mediated by each hydraphile was assessed. All of the amide-containing hydraphiles showed increased levels of Na+ transport compared to the parent compound, but the most dramatic rate increase was observed for sidearm amine to amide replacement. We attribute this enhancement to stabilization of the sidearm in the bilayer to achieve a better conformation for ion conduction. Biological studies of the amide hydraphiles with E. coli and B. subtilis showed significant toxicity only with the latter. Further, the consistency between the efficacies of ion transport and toxicity previously observed for non-amidic hydraphiles was not in evidence.
A small library of hydraphiles has been prepared that incorporates either 1,4-phenylenedioxy or 2,6-naphthalenedioxy within the spacer chains. The side chains attached to the distal macrocycles in these tris(macrocyclic) compounds are either n-dodecyl or benzyl. The presence of the arenes subunits significantly affect sodium cation release from vesicles. The efficacy of ion transport is paralleled by the toxicity of these compounds to Bacillus subtilis.
Hydraphile compounds are shown to be cytotoxic to Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria, yeast, and mammalian cells. Their cellular toxicity compares favorably with other synthetic ionophores and rivals that potency of natural antibiotics. The effects of structural variations on toxicity are described. The effects of these variations correlate well with previous studies of ion transport in liposomes. Whole cell patch clamping with mammalian cells confirms a channel mechanism in living cells suggesting that this family may comprise novel and flexible pharmacological agents.
A wide variety of bioluminescent luciferase proteins are available for use in transcriptional or biochemical reporter assays. However, spectral overlap normally prevents them from being monitored simultaneously. To address this problem, a Java plug-in for ImageJ was written to deconvolute bioluminescent images composed of signals from multiple luciferases. The methodology was validated by testing the program with both simulated and real luciferase images. Bioluminescent images were acquired using a CCD camera equipped with optical filters, and the images were deconvoluted using the ImageJ plug-in. HeLa cells were transfected with either click beetle red luciferase (CBR), click beetle green luciferase (CBG99), or Renilla luciferase (Rluc), and mixed lysates were imaged in varying proportions in a 96-well plate to biochemically validate the methodology. After spectral deconvolution, the predicted, pure luciferase signals could be recovered with maximal cross-talk errors of ±1.5%. In addition, live cells expressing CBR, CBG99, and Rluc were simultaneously imaged and deconvoluted in 96-well plates to demonstrate the feasibility of applying this methodology to high-throughput applications. Finally, multicolor transcriptional and posttranslational modification reporters were simultaneously imaged and shown to deconvolute normalized IκB kinase activity in longitudinal assays. Thus, our software provided a rapid, simple, and accurate method for simultaneously measuring multiple bioluminescent reporters in living cells.