Advanced CUBIC tissue clearing for whole-organ cell profiling

Nat Protoc. 2019 Dec;14(12):3506-3537. doi: 10.1038/s41596-019-0240-9. Epub 2019 Nov 20.


Tissue-clearing techniques are powerful tools for biological research and pathological diagnosis. Here, we describe advanced clear, unobstructed brain imaging cocktails and computational analysis (CUBIC) procedures that can be applied to biomedical research. This protocol enables preparation of high-transparency organs that retain fluorescent protein signals within 7-21 d by immersion in CUBIC reagents. A transparent mouse organ can then be imaged by a high-speed imaging system (>0.5 TB/h/color). In addition, to improve the understanding and simplify handling of the data, the positions of all detected cells in an organ (3-12 GB) can be extracted from a large image dataset (2.5-14 TB) within 3-12 h. As an example of how the protocol can be used, we counted the number of cells in an adult whole mouse brain and other distinct anatomical regions and determined the number of cells transduced with mCherry following whole-brain infection with adeno-associated virus (AAV)-PHP.eB. The improved throughput offered by this protocol allows analysis of numerous samples (e.g., >100 mouse brains per study), providing a platform for next-generation biomedical research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Coloring Agents
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Mice
  • Neuroimaging / methods*
  • Optical Imaging / methods*


  • Coloring Agents
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Indicators and Reagents