Simultaneous submicrometric 3D imaging of the micro-vascular network and the neuronal system in a mouse spinal cord
Faults in vascular (VN) and neuronal networks of spinal cord are responsible for serious neurodegenerative pathologies. Because of inadequate investigation tools, the lacking knowledge of the complete fine structure of VN and neuronal system represents a crucial problem. Conventional 2D imaging yields incomplete spatial coverage leading to possible data misinterpretation, whereas standard 3D computed tomography imaging achieves insufficient resolution and contrast. We show that X-ray high-resolution phase-contrast tomography allows the simultaneous visualization of three-dimensional VN and neuronal systems of ex-vivo mouse spinal cord at scales spanning from millimeters to hundreds of nanometers, with nor contrast agent nor sectioning and neither destructive sample-preparation. We image both the 3D distribution of micro-capillary network and the micrometric nerve fibers, axon-bundles and neuron soma. Our approach is very suitable for pre-clinical investigation of neurodegenerative pathologies and spinal-cord-injuries, in particular to resolve the entangled relationship between VN and neuronal system.