Intravital microscopy is an extremely powerful tool that enables imaging several biological processes in live animals. Recently, the ability to image subcellular structures in several organs combined with the development of sophisticated genetic tools has made possible extending this approach to investigate several aspects of cell biology. Here we provide a general overview of intravital microscopy with the goal of highlighting its potential and challenges. Specifically, this review is geared toward researchers that are new to intravital microscopy and focuses on practical aspects of carrying out imaging in live animals. Here we share the know-how that comes from first-hand experience, including topics such as choosing the right imaging platform and modality, surgery and stabilization techniques, anesthesia and temperature control. Moreover, we highlight some of the approaches that facilitate subcellular imaging in live animals by providing numerous examples of imaging selected organelles and the actin cytoskeleton in multiple organs.
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