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Tomography studies of biological cells on polymer scaffolds

P. Thurner, B. Müller, U. Sennhauser, J. Hubbell and R. Müller
Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter
Vol. 16, pp. S3499-S3510, August 2004


Advances in cell biology and tissue engineering rely heavily on performing 2D cell culture experiments. Analysis of these is conventionally done with 2D imaging techniques such as light (LM) or electron microscopy (SEM), since they are readily available. Cells, however, might act significantly differently when cultured in 2D or 3D environments. In order to analyse cells in a 3D arrangement, new imaging techniques are necessary not only in order to visualize the periphery of the cell culture in reflection mode but also to perform qualitative and quantitative investigations of the inner parts. Synchrotron radiation micro-computed tomography (SRµCT) using hard x-rays was shown to be a promising tool that can be used for 3D cell culture visualization. SRµCT allows not only visualization of cell cultures in their native 3D environment but also use of the volumetric nature of this imaging procedure to evaluate the cells quantitatively. In our approach, cells were seeded on polymer yarns, stained and measured with SRµCT in absorption and in differential absorption contrast mode. A new segmentation procedure was developed and the measured volumetric data were quantitatively assessed. Quantification parameters included total cell volume, total yarn volume, cell volume density, which is the ratio of cell to yarn volume, and the radial cell mass distribution. The applied variation of the staining parameter of gold enhancement incubation time was shown to have significant influence on the cell volume density. Differential absorption contrast mode was found to provide similar but no additional information on the investigated sample. Using novel approaches of hierarchical volumetric imaging allows closure of the gap between imaging of whole organs and single cells and might be expanded to even higher resolutions, offering investigation of the cell machinery in closer detail.

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  author = {P. Thurner and B. M\"uller and U. Sennhauser and J. Hubbell and R. M\"uller},
  title = {Tomography studies of biological cells on polymer scaffolds},
  journal = {Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter},
  year = {2004},
  month = {August},
  pages = {S3499-S3510},
  volume = {16},
  number = {},
  keywords = {}