Imaging brain tissue architecture across millimeter to nanometer scales
Julia M. Michalska, Julia Lyudchik, Philipp Velicky, Hana Štefaničková, Jake F. Watson, Alban Cenameri, Christoph Sommer, Nicole Amberg, Alessandro Venturino, Karl Roessler, Thomas Czech, Romana Höftberger, Sandra Siegert, Gaia Novarino, Peter Jonas, Johann G. Danzl
Comprehensive Analysis of Tissues across Scales, CATS, brain tissue, imaging
Mapping the complex and dense arrangement of cells and their connectivity in brain tissue demands nanoscale spatial resolution imaging. Super-resolution optical microscopy excels at visualizing specific molecules and individual cells but fails to provide tissue context. Here we developed Comprehensive Analysis of Tissues across Scales (CATS), a technology to densely map brain tissue architecture from millimeter regional to nanometer synaptic scales in diverse chemically fixed brain preparations, including rodent and human. CATS uses fixation-compatible extracellular labeling and optical imaging, including stimulated emission depletion or expansion microscopy, to comprehensively delineate cellular structures. It enables three-dimensional reconstruction of single synapses and mapping of synaptic connectivity by identification and analysis of putative synaptic cleft regions. Applying CATS to the mouse hippocampal mossy fiber circuitry, we reconstructed and quantified the synaptic input and output structure of identified neurons. We furthermore demonstrate applicability to clinically derived human tissue samples, including formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded routine diagnostic specimens, for visualizing the cellular architecture of brain tissue in health and disease.