Confocal light sheet microscopy: micron-scale neuroanatomy of the entire mouse brain

Opt Express. 2012 Aug 27;20(18):20582-98. doi: 10.1364/OE.20.020582.


Elucidating the neural pathways that underlie brain function is one of the greatest challenges in neuroscience. Light sheet based microscopy is a cutting edge method to map cerebral circuitry through optical sectioning of cleared mouse brains. However, the image contrast provided by this method is not sufficient to resolve and reconstruct the entire neuronal network. Here we combined the advantages of light sheet illumination and confocal slit detection to increase the image contrast in real time, with a frame rate of 10 Hz. In fact, in confocal light sheet microscopy (CLSM), the out-of-focus and scattered light is filtered out before detection, without multiple acquisitions or any post-processing of the acquired data. The background rejection capabilities of CLSM were validated in cleared mouse brains by comparison with a structured illumination approach. We show that CLSM allows reconstructing macroscopic brain volumes with sub-cellular resolution. We obtained a comprehensive map of Purkinje cells in the cerebellum of L7-GFP transgenic mice. Further, we were able to trace neuronal projections across brain of thy1-GFP-M transgenic mice. The whole-brain high-resolution fluorescence imaging assured by CLSM may represent a powerful tool to navigate the brain through neuronal pathways. Although this work is focused on brain imaging, the macro-scale high-resolution tomographies affordable with CLSM are ideally suited to explore, at micron-scale resolution, the anatomy of different specimens like murine organs, embryos or flies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Equipment Design
  • Equipment Failure Analysis
  • Image Enhancement / instrumentation*
  • Lighting / instrumentation*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microscopy, Confocal / instrumentation*
  • Microscopy, Confocal / veterinary*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity