High-resolution endoscopic imaging of the mouse gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts is presented in a study published this week in Nature Methods. This methodology should prove useful for the longitudinal study of mucosal surfaces in live animals.
The inner surfaces of the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts are in constant contact with potentially noxious material ― such as pathogens and toxins ― from the outside environment. Proper function of these cellular barriers is therefore important for the maintenance of health and homeostasis, and imaging them in small animal models could provide insight into disease.
Until now, wide-area endoscopic imaging in small animals, like the mouse, has proved challenging to do with high enough resolution to visualize individual cells. In this paper, Yun and colleagues report on a side-view endoscope that is easily maneuvered in small animals and that they use to image blood vessels and cells in the mouse gut and respiratory tract. Using mouse models of colorectal cancer, they monitor the initiation of tumor growth and progression over time.