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Title: Visualizing surface area and volumes of lumens in 3 dimensions using images from histological sections

item Livingston, David
item Tuong, Tan
item KISSLING, GRACE - National Institute Of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS, NIH)
item CULLEN, JOHN - North Carolina State University

Submitted to: Journal of Microscopy
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/31/2014
Publication Date: 9/30/2014
Citation: Livingston, D.P., Tuong, T.D., Kissling, G., Cullen, J. 2014. Negative space filling and 3D reconstruction of histological sections demonstrates differences in volumes of vessels and ducts within portal tracts of canine livers. Journal of Microscopy. 256:190-195.

Interpretive Summary: Many biological systems are composed of a series of vessels through which air or various liquids are transported. In plants, xylem and phloem vessels are an excellent example. In animal systems the portal tract of the liver is a good example. Visualizing these vessels in their native state (ie in 3 dimensions) would help scientists understand how the biological system responds to stresses. In this study, liver biopsies from dogs were sectioned, stained and photographed under light microscopy. The resultant images were processed using Adobe After Effects allowing a 3 dimensional view of the vessels inside the portal tract. The area of the vessels was calculated and differences between dogs raised under controlled conditions were compared to those under different conditions. Significant differences in areas of vessels were demonstrated between the various treatments. The procedure demonstrates an inexpensive way to evaluate and visualize negative spaces found in biological systems.

Technical Abstract: Visualizing areas of tissue that are occupied by air or liquid can provide a unique perspective on the relationships between various spaces within the tissue. The portal tracts of liver tissue are an example of such a space since the liver contains several vessels and ducts in various patterns of intertwining branches. An inexpensive method is presented using light microscopy and conventionally stained canine livers to colorize and allow visualization of these empty spaces in three dimensions. When the color of the background was digitally cleared, it was possible to measure areas of the portal vein, arteries, bile ducts and lymphatics. Significant differences were found between vessels and ducts across lobes and gender in control samples. Differences were also found between control and mixed breed dogs and between controls and a dog that died of accidental traumatic hemorrhage. These differences are discussed in relation to the use of negative space filling using images generated from a light microscope.