Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Microscope


Aluminium adjuvants remain the most widely used and effective adjuvants in vaccination and immunotherapy. Herein, the particle size distribution (PSD) of aluminium oxyhydroxide and aluminium hydroxyphosphate adjuvants was elucidated in attempt to correlate these properties with the biological responses observed post vaccination. Heightened solubility and potentially the generation of Al(3+) in the lysosomal environment were positively correlated with an increase in cell mortality in vitro, potentially generating a greater inflammatory response at the site of simulated injection. The cellular uptake of aluminium based adjuvants (ABAs) used in clinically approved vaccinations are compared to a commonly used experimental ABA, in an in vitro THP-1 cell model. Using lumogallion as a direct-fluorescent molecular probe for aluminium, complemented with transmission electron microscopy provides further insight into the morphology of internalised particulates, driven by the physicochemical variations of the ABAs investigated. We demonstrate that not all aluminium adjuvants are equal neither in terms of their physical properties nor their biological reactivity and potential toxicities both at the injection site and beyond. High loading of aluminium oxyhydroxide in the cytoplasm of THP-1 cells without immediate cytotoxicity might predispose this form of aluminium adjuvant to its subsequent transport throughout the body including access to the brain.

Concepts: Immune system, Electron, Cell, Immunology, Microscope, Particle size distribution, Toxicity, Particulates


The staining of neurons with silver began in the 1800s, but until now the great resolving power of the laser scanning confocal microscope has not been utilized to capture the in-focus and three-dimensional cytoarchitecture of metal-impregnated cells. Here, we demonstrate how spectral confocal microscopy, typically reserved for fluorescent imaging, can be used to visualize metal-labeled tissues. This imaging does not involve the reflectance of metal particles, but rather the excitation of silver (or gold) nanoparticles and their putative surface plasmon resonance. To induce such resonance, silver or gold particles were excited with visible-wavelength laser lines (561 or 640 nm), and the maximal emission signal was collected at a shorter wavelength (i.e., higher energy state). Because the surface plasmon resonances of noble metal nanoparticles offer a superior optical signal and do not photobleach, our novel protocol holds enormous promise of a rebirth and further development of silver- and gold-based cell labeling protocols.

Concepts: Nanoparticle, Optics, Microscope, Gold, Surface plasmon resonance, Microscopy, Plasmon, Extraordinary optical transmission


Optical microscopy is one of the most contributive tools for cell biology in the past decades. Many microscopic techniques with various functions have been developed to date, i.e., phase contrast microscopy, differential interference contrast (DIC) microscopy, confocal microscopy, two photon microscopy, superresolution microscopy, etc. However, person who is in charge of an experiment has to select one of the several microscopic techniques to achieve an experimental goal, which makes the biological assay time-consuming and expensive. To solve this problem, we have developed a microscopic system with various functions in one instrument based on the optical Fourier transformation with a lens system for detection while focusing on applicability and user-friendliness for biology. The present instrument can arbitrarily modulate the pupil function with a micro mirror array on the Fourier plane of the optical pathway for detection. We named the present instrument DiMPS (Distinct optical Modulated Pupil function System). The DiMPS is compatible with conventional fluorescent probes and illumination equipment, and gives us a Fourier-filtered image, a pseudo-relief image, and a deep focus depth. Furthermore, DiMPS achieved a resolution enhancement (pseudo-superresolution) of 110 nm through the subtraction of two images whose pupil functions are independently modulated. In maximum, the spatial and temporal resolution was improved to 120 nm and 2 ms, respectively. Since the DiMPS is based on relay optics, it can be easily combined with another microscopic instrument such as confocal microscope, and provides a method for multi-color pseudo-superresolution. Thus, the DiMPS shows great promise as a flexible optical microscopy technique in biological research fields.

Concepts: Cell, Biology, Optics, Microscope, Phase, Microscopy, Confocal microscopy, Fourier series


Automated cell imaging systems facilitate fast and reliable analysis of biological events at the cellular level. In these systems, the first step is usually cell segmentation that greatly affects the success of the subsequent system steps. On the other hand, similar to other image segmentation problems, cell segmentation is an ill-posed problem that typically necessitates the use of domain-specific knowledge to obtain successful segmentations even by human subjects. The approaches that can incorporate this knowledge into their segmentation algorithms have potential to greatly improve segmentation results. In this work, we propose a new approach for the effective segmentation of live cells from phase contrast microscopy. This approach introduces a new set of “smart markers” for a marker-controlled watershed algorithm, for which the identification of its markers is critical. The proposed approach relies on using domain-specific knowledge, in the form of visual characteristics of the cells, to define the markers. We evaluate our approach on a total of 1,954 cells. The experimental results demonstrate that this approach, which uses the proposed definition of smart markers, is quite effective in identifying better markers compared to its counterparts. This will, in turn, be effective in improving the segmentation performance of a marker-controlled watershed algorithm.

Concepts: Better, Microscope, Microscopy, Numerical analysis, Image processing, Phase-contrast imaging, Watershed, Segmentation


Orthogonal polarized spectral (OPS) and sidestream dark field (SDF) imaging video microscope devices were introduced for observation of the microcirculation but, due to technical limitations, have remained as research tools. Recently, a novel handheld microscope based on incident dark field illumination (IDF) has been introduced for clinical use. The Cytocam-IDF imaging device consists of a pen-like probe incorporating IDF illumination with a set of high-resolution lenses projecting images on to a computer controlled image sensor synchronized with very short pulsed illumination light. This study was performed to validate Cytocam-IDF imaging by comparison to SDF imaging in volunteers.

Concepts: Optics, Light, Microscope, Computer graphics, Microscopy, IMAGE, Image processing, Dark field microscopy


Suffering from giant size of objective lenses and infeasible manipulations of distant targets, telescopes could not seek helps from present super-resolution imaging, such as scanning near-field optical microscopy, perfect lens and stimulated emission depletion microscopy. In this paper, local light diffraction shrinkage associated with optical super-oscillatory phenomenon is proposed for real-time and optically restoring super-resolution imaging information in a telescope system. It is found that fine target features concealed in diffraction-limited optical images of a telescope could be observed in a small local field of view, benefiting from a relayed metasurface-based super-oscillatory imaging optics in which some local Fourier components beyond the cut-off frequency of telescope could be restored. As experimental examples, a minimal resolution to 0.55 of Rayleigh criterion is obtained, and imaging complex targets and large targets by superimposing multiple local fields of views are demonstrated as well. This investigation provides an access for real-time, incoherent and super-resolution telescopes without the manipulation of distant targets. More importantly, it gives counterintuitive evidence to the common knowledge that relayed optics could not deliver more imaging details than objective systems.

Concepts: Diffraction, Optics, Microscope, Wavelength, Lens, Telescope, F-number, Angular resolution


A major step toward an HIV-1 vaccine is an immunogen capable of inducing neutralizing antibodies. Envelope glycoprotein (Env) mimetics, such as the NFL and SOSIP designs, generate native-like, well-ordered trimers and elicit tier 2 homologous neutralization (SOSIPs). We reasoned that the display of well-ordered trimers by high-density, particulate array would increase B cell activation compared to soluble trimers. Here, we present the design of liposomal nanoparticles displaying well-ordered Env spike trimers on their surface. Biophysical analysis, cryo- and negative stain electron microscopy, as well as binding analysis with a panel of broadly neutralizing antibodies confirm a high-density, well-ordered trimer particulate array. The Env-trimer-conjugated liposomes were superior to soluble trimers in activating B cells ex vivo and germinal center B cells in vivo. In addition, the trimer-conjugated liposomes elicited modest tier 2 homologous neutralizing antibodies. The trimer-conjugated liposomes represent a promising initial lead toward the development of more effective HIV vaccine immunogens.

Concepts: HIV, Immune system, Antibody, Protein, Biology, Microscope, T cell, Antigen


To date, much effort has been expended on making high-performance microscopes through better instrumentation. Recently, it was discovered that physical magnification of specimens was possible, through a technique called expansion microscopy (ExM), raising the question of whether physical magnification, coupled to inexpensive optics, could together match the performance of high-end optical equipment, at a tiny fraction of the price. Here we show that such “hybrid microscopy” methods-combining physical and optical magnifications-can indeed achieve high performance at low cost. By physically magnifying objects, then imaging them on cheap miniature fluorescence microscopes (“mini-microscopes”), it is possible to image at a resolution comparable to that previously attainable only with benchtop microscopes that present costs orders of magnitude higher. We believe that this unprecedented hybrid technology that combines expansion microscopy, based on physical magnification, and mini-microscopy, relying on conventional optics-a process we refer to as Expansion Mini-Microscopy (ExMM)-is a highly promising alternative method for performing cost-effective, high-resolution imaging of biological samples. With further advancement of the technology, we believe that ExMM will find widespread applications for high-resolution imaging particularly in research and healthcare scenarios in undeveloped countries or remote places.

Concepts: Biology, Optics, Costs, Microscope, Magnification, Cost, Microscopy, Lens


Imaging non-adherent cells by super-resolution far-field fluorescence microscopy is currently not possible because of their rapid movement while in suspension. Holographic optical tweezers (HOTs) enable the ability to freely control the number and position of optical traps, thus facilitating the unrestricted manipulation of cells in a volume around the focal plane. Here we show that immobilizing non-adherent cells by optical tweezers is sufficient to achieve optical resolution well below the diffraction limit using localization microscopy. Individual cells can be oriented arbitrarily but preferably either horizontally or vertically relative to the microscope’s image plane, enabling access to sample sections that are impossible to achieve with conventional sample preparation and immobilization. This opens up new opportunities to super-resolve the nanoscale organization of chromosomal DNA in individual bacterial cells.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Bacteria, Diffraction, Optics, Chromosome, Microscope, Diffraction grating


Label-free imaging of living cells below the optical diffraction limit poses great challenges for optical microscopy. Biologically relevant structural information remains below the Rayleigh limit and beyond the reach of conventional microscopes. Super-resolution techniques are typically based on the non-linear and stochastic response of fluorescent labels which can be toxic and interfere with cell function. In this paper we present, for the first time, imaging of live cells using sub-optical wavelength phonons. The axial imaging resolution of our system is determined by the acoustic wavelength (λa = λprobe/2n) and not on the NA of the optics allowing sub-optical wavelength acoustic sectioning of samples using the time of flight. The transverse resolution is currently limited to the optical spot size. The contrast mechanism is significantly determined by the mechanical properties of the cells and requires no additional contrast agent, stain or label to image the cell structure. The ability to breach the optical diffraction limit to image living cells acoustically promises to bring a new suite of imaging technologies to bear in answering exigent questions in cell biology and biomedicine.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Diffraction, Biology, Optics, Organism, Cell biology, Microscope