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India ink generates 3-D image of blood vessels

EPM/Unifesp Simple technique determines the number, length and surface area of blood vesselsEPM/Unifesp

Rather than fluorescent proteins or complex dyes, it was India ink mixed with gelatin—products that can be bought in a store. Using these inexpensive, easy-to-find ingredients, researchers from the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp) and the University of Surrey, England, have developed a technique to examine and quantify the blood vessels of the brain by generating high-resolution 3-D images. Using a confocal microscope, they were able to record details of vascular branching in several regions of the mouse brain, such as the cerebral cortex, the hippocampus and the cerebellum. The animals received injections of the ink-gelatin compound, which fills the vessels and is visible in brain images (Journal of Anatomy, December 2016). The method makes it possible to determine the number, length and surface area of vessels. Changes in these parameters may indicate circulatory disorders. “The technique is simple to use and the materials are quite accessible,” says parasitologist Renato Mortara, a professor at the Paulista School of Medicine at Unifesp and a coauthor of the study. Preparation of the mixture used in the test takes about 24 hours. The next step in the project is to test the use of the procedure in post-mortem analyses and in biopsies of human tissue. The technique was developed by Robson Gutierre, a postdoctoral researcher at Unifesp.