Elucidating the normal structure and distribution of cerebral vascular system is fundamental for understanding its function. However, studies on visualization and whole-brain quantification of vasculature with cellular resolution are limited. Here, we explored the structure of vasculature at the whole-brain level using the newly developed CLARITY technique. Adult male C57BL/6J mice undergoing transient middle cerebral artery occlusion and Tie2-RFP transgenic mice were used. Whole mouse brains were extracted for CLARITY processing. Immunostaining was performed to label vessels. Customized MATLAB code was used for image processing and quantification. Three-dimensional images were visualized using the Vaa3D software. Our results showed that whole mouse brain became transparent using the CLARITY method. Three-dimensional imaging and visualization of vasculature were achieved at the whole-brain level with a 1-μm voxel resolution. The quantitative results showed that the fractional vascular volume was 0.018 ± 0.004 mm3 per mm3, the normalized vascular length was 0.44 ± 0.04 m per mm3, and the mean diameter of the microvessels was 4.25 ± 0.08 μm. Furthermore, a decrease in the fractional vascular volume and a decrease in the normalized vascular length were found in the penumbra of ischemic mice compared to controls (p < 0.05). In conclusion, CLARITY provides a novel approach for mapping vasculature in the whole mouse brain at cellular resolution. CLARITY-optimized algorithms facilitate the assessment of structural change in vasculature after brain injury.
- Imaging process