Tridimensional Visualization and Analysis of Early Human Development

Cell. 2017 Mar 23;169(1):161-173.e12. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.03.008.


Generating a precise cellular and molecular cartography of the human embryo is essential to our understanding of the mechanisms of organogenesis in normal and pathological conditions. Here, we have combined whole-mount immunostaining, 3DISCO clearing, and light-sheet imaging to start building a 3D cellular map of the human development during the first trimester of gestation. We provide high-resolution 3D images of the developing peripheral nervous, muscular, vascular, cardiopulmonary, and urogenital systems. We found that the adult-like pattern of skin innervation is established before the end of the first trimester, showing important intra- and inter-individual variations in nerve branches. We also present evidence for a differential vascularization of the male and female genital tracts concomitant with sex determination. This work paves the way for a cellular and molecular reference atlas of human cells, which will be of paramount importance to understanding human development in health and disease. PAPERCLIP.

Keywords: 3DISCO; database; embryo; fetus; human; iDISCO; light sheet microscopy; nervous system; tissue clearing; urogenital system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Embryo, Mammalian / cytology*
  • Embryonic Development
  • Fetus / cytology*
  • Human Development*
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods*
  • Microscopy / methods*
  • Organogenesis
  • Peripheral Nervous System / cytology
  • Peripheral Nervous System / growth & development