A microscope that can take high-resolution images of a beating mouse heart over a period of several hours is reported in Nature Communications this week. The microscopic setup, which combines a motion stabilizer with an algorithm for gated image acquisition, could facilitate in vivo imaging of other organs, if adapted accordingly.
Modern microscopes can take images at high resolution and at high speed but they usually require imaged objects to remain fairly static. This poses a particular challenge for imaging in animals, were cardiac and respiratory motion causes image defects. Claudio Vinegoni and collaborators designed a ring-shaped motion stabilizer that is attached to the heart of anaesthetised mice. Motion defects were further reduced by using only bits of images taken at specific times during the heart and respiratory cycle. The final images were then reconstructed on a computer in real time. The researchers used this microscope to image white blood cells migrating through coronary vessels and towards inflamed areas of the heart in a mouse model of myocardial infarction.