Imaging the developing human external and internal urogenital organs with light sheet fluorescence microscopy

Differentiation. Jan-Feb 2020;111:12-21. doi: 10.1016/j.diff.2019.09.006. Epub 2019 Oct 10.

Abstract

Technological advances in three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction techniques have previously enabled paradigm shifts in our understanding of human embryonic and fetal development. Light sheet fluorescence microscopy (LSFM) is a recently-developed technique that uses thin planes of light to optically section whole-mount cleared and immunolabeled biologic specimens. The advent of commercially-available light sheet microscopes has facilitated a new generation of research into protein localization and tissue dynamics at extremely high resolution. Our group has applied LSFM to study developing human fetal external genitalia, internal genitalia and kidneys. This review describes LSFM and presents our group's technique for preparing, clearing, immunostaining and imaging human fetal urogenital specimens. We then present light sheet images and videos of each element of the developing human urogenital system. To the extent of our knowledge, the work conducted by our laboratory represents the first description of a method for performing LSFM on the full human urogenital system during the embryonic and fetal periods.

Keywords: CLARITY; Genital development; Light sheet fluorescence microscopy; Microscopy; Selective plane illumination microscopy; Urogenital development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods*
  • Specimen Handling / methods*
  • Urogenital System / cytology*