Long-term high-resolution intravital microscopy in the lung with a vacuum stabilized imaging window

Carolina Rodriguez-Tirado, Takanori Kitamura, Yu Kato, Jeffery W. Pollard, John S. Condeelis, David Entenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Metastasis to secondary sites such as the lung, liver and bone is a traumatic event with a mortality rate of approximately 90% 1. Of these sites, the lung is the most difficult to assess using intravital optical imaging due to its enclosed position within the body, delicate nature and vital role in sustaining proper physiology. While clinical modalities (positron emission tomography (PET), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT)) are capable of providing noninvasive images of this tissue, they lack the resolution necessary to visualize the earliest seeding events, with a single pixel consisting of nearly a thousand cells. Current models of metastatic lung seeding postulate that events just after a tumor cell's arrival are deterministic for survival and subsequent growth. This means that real-time intravital imaging tools with single cell resolution 2 are required in order to define the phenotypes of the seeding cells and test these models. While high resolution optical imaging of the lung has been performed using various ex vivo preparations, these experiments are typically single time-point assays and are susceptible to artifacts and possible erroneous conclusions due to the dramatically altered environment (temperature, profusion, cytokines, etc.) resulting from removal from the chest cavity and circulatory system 3. Recent work has shown that time-lapse intravital optical imaging of the intact lung is possible using a vacuum stabilized imaging window 2,4,5 however, typical imaging times have been limited to approximately 6 hr. Here we describe a protocol for performing long-term intravital time-lapse imaging of the lung utilizing such a window over a period of 12 hr. The time-lapse image sequences obtained using this method enable visualization and quantitation of cell-cell interactions, membrane dynamics and vascular perfusion in the lung. We further describe an image processing technique that gives an unprecedentedly clear view of the lung microvasculature.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere54603
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number116
StatePublished - 6 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer biology
  • Cancer research
  • Intravital imaging
  • Issue 116
  • Lung
  • Multiphoton microscopy
  • Time-lapse
  • Vacuum window


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