Three-dimensional imaging of human stem cells using soft X-ray tomography

Jonathan Christos Niclis, Sean V Murphy, Dilworth Y Parkinson, Amr Zedan, Arunachalam H Sathananthan, David S Cram, Phil R Heraud

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Three-dimensional imaging of human stem cells using transmission soft X-ray tomography (SXT) is presented for the first time. Major organelle types-nuclei, nucleoli, mitochondria, lysosomes and vesicles-were discriminated at approximately 50 nm spatial resolution without the use of contrast agents, on the basis of measured linear X-ray absorption coefficients and comparison of the size and shape of structures to transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images. In addition, SXT was used to visualize the distribution of a cell surface protein using gold-labelled antibody staining. We present the strengths of SXT, which include excellent spatial resolution (intermediate between that of TEM and light microscopy), the lack of the requirement for fixative or contrast agent that might perturb cellular morphology or produce imaging artefacts, and the ability to produce three-dimensional images of cells without microtome sectioning. Possible applications to studying the differentiation of human stem cells are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number108
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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