ABSTRACT: The combination of intravital microscopy and animal models of disease has propelled studies of disease mechanisms and treatments. However, many disorders afflict tissues inaccessible to light microscopy in live subjects. Here we introduce cellular-level time-lapse imaging deep within the live mammalian brain by one- and two-photon fluorescence microendoscopy over multiple weeks. Bilateral imaging sites allowed longitudinal comparisons within individual subjects, including of normal and diseased tissues. Using this approach, we tracked CA1 hippocampal pyramidal neuron dendrites in adult mice, revealing these dendrites' extreme stability and rare examples of their structural alterations. To illustrate disease studies, we tracked deep lying gliomas by observing tumor growth, visualizing three-dimensional vasculature structure and determining microcirculatory speeds. Average erythrocyte speeds in gliomas declined markedly as the disease advanced, notwithstanding significant increases in capillary diameters. Time-lapse microendoscopy will be applicable to studies of numerous disorders, including neurovascular, neurological, cancerous and trauma-induced conditions.
Nature medicine 02/2011; 17(2):223-8. · 27.14 Impact Factor