New software opens the door to wider use of 3-D imaging in the study of disease

April 16, 2012

Researchers have developed a novel, easy-to-use system for three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction and examination of tissues at microscopic resolution, with the potential to significantly enhance the study of normal and disease processes, particularly those involving structural changes. The new approach, using conventional histopathological methods, is described in the May issue of The American Journal of Pathology.

"The use of 3D imaging technology to study structure, function, and disease manifestations has been limited because of low resolution, and the time and difficulty associated with acquiring large numbers of images with a microscope," says lead investigator Dr. Darren Treanor, University of Leeds and the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, United Kingdom. "Our system can integrate tissue micro-architecture and cellular morphology on large tissue samples. It can be used by technical or medical staff in a histopathology laboratory without input from computing specialists."

Developed by Dr. Derek Magee at the University of Leeds, the system utilizes automated virtual slide scanners to generate high-resolution digital images and produce 3D tissue reconstructions at a cellular resolution level and can be used on any stained tissue section. It is based on a general image based-registration algorithm and operates using an integrated system that requires minimal manual intervention once the slides are sectioned, stained, and mounted. The virtual slide scanners digitize the tissue automatically, the software communicates with the software serving the image, which aligns the images, and produces visualization in one integrated package. The user can manually select a region, zoom in and re-register the area to get a higher resolution image of microscopic features.

The authors have applied the system to over 300 separate 3D volumes from eight different tissue types, using a total of 5,500 virtual slides. They describe cases that illustrate the possible applications of the system. For example, a 3D volume rendering of a mouse embryo demonstrates that the method could be useful for providing anatomical and expression data and for creating a "virtual archive" of 3D transgenic models. A 3D volume rendering of sections from a human liver containing a deposit of metastatic colorectal carcinoma adjacent to a blood vessel could provide insight into tumor vasculature and its response to anti-angiogenic agents. A 3D visualization of cirrhotic human liver infected with hepatitis C demonstrates the software's potential to provide information on disease development and aid diagnosis.

"Many fields, including tumor biology, embryology, and cardiovascular disease could benefit from correlation of structure and function in three dimensions, but getting high quality 3D reconstructions has always been difficult" says Dr. Treanor. "We have demonstrated that our software is accurate and robust enough to use without significant computer science input. This system provides the opportunity for increasing use of 3D histopathology as a routine research tool."

Explore further: 3-D printing technology from CT images may be used effectively for neurosurgical planning

Related Stories

3-D printing technology from CT images may be used effectively for neurosurgical planning

April 29, 2011
3D models, produced by combining a patient's CT scans and 3D printing technology are proving useful in neurosurgical planning.

Recommended for you

Researchers describe mechanism that underlies age-associated bone loss

September 22, 2017
A major health problem in older people is age-associated osteoporosis—the thinning of bone and the loss of bone density that increases the risk of fractures. Often this is accompanied by an increase in fat cells in the ...

Researchers develop treatment to reduce rate of cleft palate relapse complication

September 22, 2017
Young people with cleft palate may one day face fewer painful surgeries and spend less time undergoing uncomfortable orthodontic treatments thanks to a new therapy developed by researchers from the UCLA School of Dentistry. ...

Exosomes are the missing link to insulin resistance in diabetes

September 21, 2017
Chronic tissue inflammation resulting from obesity is an underlying cause of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. But the mechanism by which this occurs has remained cloaked, until now.

Thousands of new microbial communities identified in human body

September 20, 2017
A new study of the human microbiome—the trillions of microbial organisms that live on and within our bodies—has analyzed thousands of new measurements of microbial communities from the gut, skin, mouth, and vaginal microbiome, ...

Study finds immune system is critical to regeneration

September 20, 2017
The answer to regenerative medicine's most compelling question—why some organisms can regenerate major body parts such as hearts and limbs while others, such as humans, cannot—may lie with the body's innate immune system, ...

Immune cells produce wound healing factor, could lead to new IBD treatment

September 20, 2017
Specific immune cells have the ability to produce a healing factor that can promote wound repair in the intestine, a finding that could lead to new, potential therapeutic treatments for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), according ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.