Researchers from Paulista School of Medicine (EPM / Unifesp) and University of Surrey (K) have developed an innovative technique to examine and quantify blood vessels in the brain using 3D imaging procedures.
The work published in the Journal of Anatomy will enable scientists to examine circulation in the brain, giving a better understanding of how it works and how brain diseases - dementia, cancer and stroke - can affect the veins and capillaries from this important organ.
Until now, researchers lacked a technique for quantifying blood vessels that generated high-resolution 3D images using a simple, inexpensive methodology that is accessible to most labs in the world.
Although experiments have been conducted on animal models, the data obtained in these surveys can potentially be applied to humans, thus helping to reduce the number of deaths caused by brain diseases. In this way, the technique will facilitate the identification of potential warning signs of these conditions before their symptoms appear.
"This new technique of dissolving china ink with gelatin has the advantage of providing high image resolution, being simple in execution and with affordable and inexpensive materials. The material preparation process is also very fast, about 24 hours, explains researcher Robson Campos Gutierre, who holds his postdoctoral degree from the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery of the EPM / Unifesp, under the guidance of Ricardo Arida, Department of Physiology.
With the use of a confocal microscope, the technique makes blood vessels visible and allows scientists and pathologists to accurately read their number, length and surface area, and create 3D images that can help identify quantitative changes, key of a series of diseases related to the circulation in the brain.
The procedure can also be used in post-mortem examinations and biopsies of animal and human tissues, making it easier for pathologists to determine the causes of death and the rapid identification of changes in the cerebral circulation, such as the formation of clots or tumors.
In addition, this innovative method will also bring a greater understanding of how physical exercise affects the brain. Scientists will now be able to analyze the circulatory effects of increasing or decreasing heart rate, blood pressure in the brain and the creation of new vessels (angiogenesis).
A co-author of the study, Augusto Coppi, veterinarian, veterinary anatomist and stereologist at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Surrey, explains that the brain is a fascinating organ, but there is a gap in human understanding about its blood circulation. "Previously, we were unable to do a full sampling and perform accurate quantification of brain blood vessels in 3D because we simply could not see all of the vessels because of their tiny size and sometimes because of their uneven spatial distribution."
Together with Gutierre, Arida and Coppi, the study is also signed by Renato Mortara, Full Professor of the Discipline of Parasitology at EPM / Unifesp, and Diego Vannucci Campos, doctor in Neurosciences.