3-dimensional resin casting and imaging of mouse portal vein or intrahepatic bile duct system.

Walter TJ, Sparks EE, Huppert SS
J Vis Exp. 2012 (68): e4272

PMID: 23128398 · PMCID: PMC3490298 · DOI:10.3791/4272

In organs, the correct architecture of vascular and ductal structures is indispensable for proper physiological function, and the formation and maintenance of these structures is a highly regulated process. The analysis of these complex, 3-dimensional structures has greatly depended on either 2-dimensional examination in section or on dye injection studies. These techniques, however, are not able to provide a complete and quantifiable representation of the ductal or vascular structures they are intended to elucidate. Alternatively, the nature of 3-dimensional plastic resin casts generates a permanent snapshot of the system and is a novel and widely useful technique for visualizing and quantifying 3-dimensional structures and networks. A crucial advantage of the resin casting system is the ability to determine the intact and connected, or communicating, structure of a blood vessel or duct. The structure of vascular and ductal networks are crucial for organ function, and this technique has the potential to aid study of vascular and ductal networks in several ways. Resin casting may be used to analyze normal morphology and functional architecture of a luminal structure, identify developmental morphogenetic changes, and uncover morphological differences in tissue architecture between normal and disease states. Previous work has utilized resin casting to study, for example, architectural and functional defects within the mouse intrahepatic bile duct system that were not reflected in 2-dimensional analysis of the structure(1,2), alterations in brain vasculature of a Alzheimer's disease mouse model(3), portal vein abnormalities in portal hypertensive and cirrhotic mice(4), developmental steps in rat lymphatic maturation between immature and adult lungs(5), immediate microvascular changes in the rat liver, pancreas, and kidney in response in to chemical injury(6). Here we present a method of generating a 3-dimensional resin cast of a mouse vascular or ductal network, focusing specifically on the portal vein and intrahepatic bile duct. These casts can be visualized by clearing or macerating the tissue and can then be analyzed. This technique can be applied to virtually any vascular or ductal system and would be directly applicable to any study inquiring into the development, function, maintenance, or injury of a 3-dimensional ductal or vascular structure.

MeSH Terms (7)

Animals Bile Ducts, Intrahepatic Imaging, Three-Dimensional Mice Models, Anatomic Portal Vein Resins, Synthetic

Connections (2)

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