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Optical Clearing of the Mouse Central Nervous System Using Passive CLARITY.

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Traditionally, tissue visualization has required that the tissue of interest be serially sectioned and imaged, subjecting each tissue section to unique non-linear deformations, dramatically hampering one's ability to evaluate cellular morphology, distribution and connectivity in the central nervous system (CNS). However, optical clearing techniques are changing the way tissues are visualized. These approaches permit one to probe deeply into intact organ preparations, providing tremendous insight into the structural organization of tissues in health and disease. Techniques such as Clear Lipid-exchanged Acrylamide-hybridized Rigid Imaging-compatible Tissue-hYdrogel (CLARITY) achieve this goal by providing a matrix that binds important biomolecules while permitting light-scattering lipids to freely diffuse out. Lipid removal, followed by refractive index matching, renders the tissue transparent and readily imaged in 3 dimensions (3D). Nevertheless, the electrophoretic tissue clearing (ETC) used in the original CLARITY protocol can be challenging to implement successfully and the use of a proprietary refraction index matching solution makes it expensive to use the technique routinely. This report demonstrates the implementation of a simple and inexpensive optical clearing protocol that combines passive CLARITY for improved tissue integrity and 2,2'-thiodiethanol (TDE), a previously described refractive index matching solution.

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