Imaging and Quantification of Intact Neuronal Dendrites via CLARITY Tissue Clearing

J Vis Exp. 2021 Apr 20;(170). doi: 10.3791/62532.


Brain activity, the electrochemical signals passed between neurons, is determined by the connectivity patterns of neuronal networks, and from the morphology of processes and substructures within these neurons. As such, much of what is known about brain function has arisen alongside developments in imaging technologies that allow further insight into how neurons are organized and connected in the brain. Improvements in tissue clearing have allowed for high-resolution imaging of thick brain slices, facilitating morphological reconstruction and analyses of neuronal substructures, such as dendritic arbors and spines. In tandem, advances in image processing software provide methods of quickly analyzing large imaging datasets. This work presents a relatively rapid method of processing, visualizing, and analyzing thick slices of labeled neural tissue at high-resolution using CLARITY tissue clearing, confocal microscopy, and image analysis. This protocol will facilitate efforts toward understanding the connectivity patterns and neuronal morphologies that characterize healthy brains, and the changes in these characteristics that arise in diseased brain states.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dendrites / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Confocal / methods*
  • Nerve Tissue / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*