3-D Imaging Method Unmasks Secrets of the Beating Heart

Nancy Crotti

July 25, 2014

2 Min Read
3-D Imaging Method Unmasks Secrets of the Beating Heart

Oh, my beating heart! One day, its image may be captured in 3-D by a high-speed microscope designed by German researchers. Max Planck Institute Beating Heart

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden combined Selective Plane Illumination Microscopy (SPIM) and inventive image processing to reconstruct multi-view movies of the beating heart of a zebrafish.

Each movie covered an individual plane of the heart. They then used the correlations between the individual planes to generate a synchronized 3D image of the beating heart.

Their work may help advance the understanding of heart defects and further experiments on cardiac function and development, according to a press release from the institute. It may also allow for imaging of hearts with arrhythmia.

The research team stopped the heart from beating by illuminating it using optogenetics. (Zebrafish embryos can survive several hours of cardiac arrest.)

They employed this non-invasive technique to gently illuminate the fish heart with a thin sheet of light, then observed the fluorescence with a fast, sensitive camera. High-speed volume scanning using a liquid lens can resolve non-periodic phenomena such as irregularly beating hearts and the flow of blood cells.

"These renderings allow us to further follow characteristic structures of the heart throughout the cardiac cycle," said Michaela Mickoleit, a PhD student who performed the experiments.

This technology will allow scientists to observe cardiac contractions and the distance between endocardium and myocardium throughout the heartbeat. They might achieve better resolution by manipulating the exposure time and magnification of the images, enabling views of fine details such as sarcomeres and filamentous actin.

The German research is among the latest to use 3D technology for medical purposes. In May, researchers at the MIT Media Lab's Camera Culture group said they built a prototype of a glasses-free 3-D TV projector that can improve the resolution and contrast of conventional video. The researchers hope this could make it an attractive transitional technology, cheaper and more practical than holographic video, as content producers gradually learn to harness the potential of multiperspective 3-D.

Nancy Crotti is a contributor to Qmed and MPMN.

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About the Author(s)

Nancy Crotti

Nancy Crotti is a frequent contributor to MD+DI. Reach her at [email protected].

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