Dorsal Ear Skin Window for Intravital Imaging and Functional Analysis of Lymphangiogenesis

Methods Mol Biol. 2018;1846:261-277. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-8712-2_17.


Postdevelopmental lymphangiogenesis occurs in chronic inflammation and wound healing, and here we describe a window preparation in the mouse ear in which lymphangiogenesis can be observed and manipulated. This model has many advantages, including access for intravital immunostaining and imaging to assess morphological features and regeneration kinetics, as well as functional assays such as lymphatic clearance. We describe five procedures: (1) the creation of a collagen-fibrin-filled window in the mouse ear as a model for regenerative lymphangiogenesis, (2) intravital immunostaining for live analysis of morphology and structure, (3) lymphatic clearance assay for functional quantification, (4) whole-mount imaging with tissue clearing for confocal imaging, and (5) postmortem lymphangiography. These procedures allow for identification of morphological and functional abnormalities in both preexisting and newly formed lymphatic vessels.

Keywords: Confocal; Epifluorescence imaging; Lymphatic; Lymphatic clearance; Whole-mount.

MeSH terms

  • Angiography / methods
  • Biomarkers
  • Collagen / metabolism
  • Fibrin / metabolism
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Intravital Microscopy* / methods
  • Lymphangiogenesis*
  • Lymphatic Vessels / physiology*
  • Microscopy, Confocal / methods
  • Molecular Imaging* / methods
  • Skin / blood supply*
  • Skin / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers
  • Fibrin
  • Collagen