Töpperwien M, Markus A, Alves F, Salditt T
Knowledge of the three-dimensional (3d) neuronal cytoarchitecture is an important factor in order to understand the connection between tissue structure and function or to visualize pathological changes in neurodegenerative diseases or tumor development. The gold standard in neuropathology is histology, a technique which provides insights into the cellular organization based on sectioning of the sample. Conventional histology, however, misses the complete 3d information as only individual two-dimensional slices through the object are available. In this work, we use propagation-based phase-contrast x-ray tomography to perform 3d virtual histology on cerebellar tissue from mice. This technique enables us to non-invasively visualize the entire 3d density distribution of the examined samples at isotropic (sub-)cellular resolution. One central challenge, however, of the technique is the fact that contrast for important structural features can be easily lost due to small electron density differences, notably between the cells and surrounding tissue. Here, we evaluate the influence of different embedding media, which are intermediate steps in sample preparation for classical histology, on contrast formation and examine the applicability of the different sample preparations both at a synchrotron-based holotomography setup as well as a laboratory source.