A tunable refractive index matching medium for live imaging cells, tissues and model organisms

Elife. 2017 Jul 14:6:e27240. doi: 10.7554/eLife.27240.


In light microscopy, refractive index mismatches between media and sample cause spherical aberrations that often limit penetration depth and resolution. Optical clearing techniques can alleviate these mismatches, but they are so far limited to fixed samples. We present Iodixanol as a non-toxic medium supplement that allows refractive index matching in live specimens and thus substantially improves image quality in live-imaged primary cell cultures, planarians, zebrafish and human cerebral organoids.

Keywords: Planaria; cell biology; confocal microscopy; developmental biology; live-imaging; organoids; refractive index matching; stem cells; zebrafish.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Survival
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / physiology
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional*
  • Models, Biological
  • Refractometry / methods*
  • Solutions
  • Solvents
  • Tissue Culture Techniques
  • Triiodobenzoic Acids / pharmacology*
  • Zebrafish / embryology


  • Solutions
  • Solvents
  • Triiodobenzoic Acids
  • iodixanol

Grants and funding

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.