The dorsal skinfold chamber: studying angiogenesis by intravital microscopy

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Intravital microscopy represents an internationally accepted and sophisticated experimental method to study angiogenesis, microcirculation, and many other parameters in a wide variety of neoplastic and nonneoplastic tissues. Since 1924, when the first transparent chamber model in animals was introduced, many other chamber models have been described in the literature for studying angiogenesis and microcirculation. Because angiogenesis is an active and dynamic process, one of the major strengths of chamber models is the possibility of monitoring angiogenesis in vivo continuously for up to several weeks with high spatial and temporal resolution. In addition, after the termination of experiments, tissue samples can be excised easily and further examined by various in vitro methods, such as histology, immunohistochemistry, and molecular biology. This chapter describes the protocol for the surgical preparation of a dorsal skinfold chamber in mice as well as the method to implant tumors in this chamber for further investigations of angiogenesis and other microcirculatory parameters. However, the application of the dorsal skinfold chamber model is not limited to the investigation of neoplastic tissues. To this end, the investigation of angiogenesis and other microcirculatory parameters of nonneoplastic tissues such as tendons, osteochondral grafts, or pancreatic islets have been objects of interest.

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