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Imaging intact human organs from the organ to the cellular scale in three dimensions is a goal of biomedical imaging. To meet this challenge, we developed hierarchical phase-contrast tomography (HiP-CT), an X-ray phase propagation technique using the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF)’s Extremely Brilliant Source (EBS). The spatial coherence of the ESRF-EBS combined with our beamline equipment, sample preparation and scanning developments enabled us to perform non-destructive, three-dimensional (3D) scans with hierarchically increasing resolution at any location in whole human organs. We applied HiP-CT to image five intact human organ types: brain, lung, heart, kidney and spleen. HiP-CT provided a structural overview of each whole organ followed by multiple higher-resolution volumes of interest, capturing organotypic functional units and certain individual specialized cells within intact human organs. We demonstrate the potential applications of HiP-CT through quantification and morphometry of glomeruli in an intact human kidney and identification of regional changes in the tissue architecture in a lung from a deceased donor with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Walsh, C. L., Tafforeau, P., Wagner, W. L., Jafree, D. J., Bellier, A., Werlein, C., … Lee, P. D. (2021). Imaging intact human organs with local resolution of cellular structures using hierarchical phase-contrast tomography. Nature Methods, 18(12), 1532–1541. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41592-021-01317-x