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In JoVE (1)

Other Publications (17)

Articles by Ulf Ahlgren in JoVE

 JoVE Clinical and Translational Medicine

Near Infrared Optical Projection Tomography for Assessments of β-cell Mass Distribution in Diabetes Research

1Umeå Centre for Molecular Medicine, Umeå University, 2Cell Transplant Center, Diabetes Research Institute, University of Miami,, 3EMBL-CRG Systems Biology Program, Centre for Genomic Regulation, Catalan Institute of Research and Advanced Studies, 4Dept. of Computing Science, Umeå University


JoVE 50238

We describe the adaptation of optical projection tomography (OPT)1 to imaging in the near infrared spectrum, and the implementation of a number of computational tools. These protocols enable assessments of pancreatic β-cell mass (BCM) in larger specimens, increase the multichannel capacity of the technique and increase the quality of OPT data.

Other articles by Ulf Ahlgren on PubMed

Optical Projection Tomography As a Tool for 3D Microscopy and Gene Expression Studies

Current techniques for three-dimensional (3D) optical microscopy (deconvolution, confocal microscopy, and optical coherence tomography) generate 3D data by "optically sectioning" the specimen. This places severe constraints on the maximum thickness of a specimen that can be imaged. We have developed a microscopy technique that uses optical projection tomography (OPT) to produce high-resolution 3D images of both fluorescent and nonfluorescent biological specimens with a thickness of up to 15 millimeters. OPT microscopy allows the rapid mapping of the tissue distribution of RNA and protein expression in intact embryos or organ systems and can therefore be instrumental in studies of developmental biology or gene function.

The Splanchnic Mesodermal Plate Directs Spleen and Pancreatic Laterality, and is Regulated by Bapx1/Nkx3.2

The mechanism by which left-right (LR) information is interpreted by organ primordia during asymmetric morphogenesis is largely unknown. We show that spleen and pancreatic laterality is dependent on a specialised, columnar mesodermal-derived cell layer referred to here as the splanchnic mesodermal plate (SMP). At early embryonic stages, the SMP is bilateral, surrounding the midline-located stomach and dorsal pancreatic bud. Under control of the LR asymmetry pathway, the left SMP is maintained and grows laterally. Mice carrying the dominant hemimelia (Dh) mutation lack the SMP. Significantly, the mice are asplenic and the pancreas remains positioned along the embryonic midline. In the absence of Fgf10 expression, the spleno-pancreatic mesenchyme and surrounding SMP grow laterally but contain no endodermal component, showing that leftward growth is autonomous and independent of endoderm. In the Bapx1(-/-) mutants, the SMP is defective. Normally, the SMP is a source for both Fgf9 and Fgf10; however, in the Bapx1 mutant, Fgf10 expression is downregulated and the dorsal pancreas remains at the midline. We conclude that the SMP is an organiser responsible for the leftward growth of the spleno-pancreatic region and that Bapx1 regulates SMP functions required for pancreatic laterality.

Nuclear Factor-{kappa}B Activity in {beta}-cells is Required for Glucose-stimulated Insulin Secretion

Glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) in pancreatic beta-cells depends on coordinated glucose uptake, oxidative metabolism, and Ca(2+)-triggered insulin exocytosis. Impaired GSIS is a hallmark of type 2 diabetes. However, at present we know very little about the molecular mechanisms that induce and maintain the expression of genes required for GSIS in beta-cells. The transcription factor nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) is activated by an increase in intracellular Ca(2+) in beta-cells. Here, we show that attenuation of NF-kappaB activation in beta-cells generates mice with impaired GSIS, and that the beta-cells show perturbed expression of genes required for glucose uptake, oxidative metabolism, and insulin exocytosis. Thus, NF-kappaB appears to be part of a positive regulatory circuit that maintains GSIS in pancreatic beta-cells.

Developmental Expression of Metalloproteases ADAM 9, 10, and 17 Becomes Restricted to Divergent Pancreatic Compartments

The A Disintegrin And Metalloprotease (ADAM) family of metalloproteases affects a variety of proteins with important roles in development and disease, including growth factors and adhesion molecules. We have analyzed the expression patterns of ADAMs 9, 10, and 17 during pancreas ontogeny. All ADAMs investigated were expressed in the pancreatic anlagen but invariably became restricted to divergent pancreatic compartments. ADAM9 and 17 became restricted to the insulin-producing beta-cells and all islet cells, respectively. During embryogenesis, ADAM10 was detected predominantly in acinar cells, but in the adult, it was localized to the cell surface membrane of both endocrine and exocrine cells. In addition to ADAM9, a potential prognostic factor for ductal cancers, we describe the expression of ADAM10 and ADAM17 in the pancreatic ductal epithelium. Altogether, the dynamic expression profile of the ADAM proteases described here may reflect a functional divergence of these as mediators of pancreas biology.

Cloning and Analysis of Nkx6.3 During CNS and Gastrointestinal Development

Members of the Nkx family of homeodomain proteins are involved in a variety of developmental processes such as cell fate determination in the CNS and in the pancreas. Here we describe the cloning and developmental expression pattern of Nkx6.3, a new member of the Nkx6 subfamily of homeodomain proteins. Nkx6.3 is expressed in the developing CNS and gastro-intestinal tract. In contrast to Nkx6.1 and Nkx6.2 that are broadly expressed in ventral positions of the developing CNS, Nkx6.3 shows a remarkably selective expression in a subpopulation of differentiating V2 neurons at caudal hindbrain levels. The expression of Nkx6.3 at this level depends on the activity of other Nkx6 proteins. In the gut, Nkx6.3 is expressed in duodenal and glandular stomach endoderm and at the end of gestation Nkx6.3 became restricted to the base of the gastric units in the glandular stomach. The expression of Nkx6.3 overlapped with the expression of Nkx6.2 both in the CNS and in the gut. Transient Nkx6.2 expression was also detected in the developing pancreas. However, analysis of Nkx6.2(-/-) mice did not display any obvious aberrations of pancreatic or stomach development.

Spleen Versus Pancreas: Strict Control of Organ Interrelationship Revealed by Analyses of Bapx1-/- Mice

During early stages of pancreatic development, the mesenchyme that contributes to the spleen overlies the dorsal pancreatic endoderm. Here, we show that interactions between splenic mesenchyme and pancreas proceed via a highly orchestrated morphogenetic program. Disruption of morphogenesis, as occurs in the Bapx1(Nkx3.2)(-/-) embryo, results in transformation of these tissues into well-organized, ectopic gut-like structures. Bapx1 plays a crucial organizing role effecting position and separation of the spleen and pancreas to prevent this metaplastic transformation. Similar transformations occur in organ cultures employing wild-type pancreatic endoderm and spleen mesenchyme, revealing the developmental plasticity of the pancreas and that precise spatial and temporal control of tissue interactions are required for development of both organs.

Tomographic Molecular Imaging and 3D Quantification Within Adult Mouse Organs

A convenient technology to quantify three-dimensional (3D) morphological features would have widespread applications in biomedical research. Based on combined improvements in sample preparation, tomographic imaging and computational processing, we present a procedure for high-resolution 3D quantification of structures within intact adult mouse organs. Using the nonobese diabetic (NOD) mouse model, we demonstrate a correlation between total islet beta-cell volume and the onset of type-1 diabetes.

High-resolution Three-dimensional Imaging of Islet-infiltrate Interactions Based on Optical Projection Tomography Assessments of the Intact Adult Mouse Pancreas

A predicament when assessing the mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of type-1 diabetes (T1D) has been to maintain simultaneous global and regional information on the loss of insulin-cell mass and the progression of insulitis. We present a procedure for high-resolution 3-D analyses of regions of interest (ROIs), defined on the basis of global assessments of the 3-D distribution, size, and shape of molecularly labeled structures within the full volume of the intact mouse pancreas. We apply a refined protocol for optical projection tomography (OPT)-aided whole pancreas imaging in combination with confocal laser scanning microscopy of site-directed pancreatic microbiopsies. As such, the methodology provides a useful tool for detailed cellular and molecular assessments of the autoimmune insulitis in T1D. It is anticipated that the same approach could be applied to other areas of research where 3-D molecular distributions of both global and regional character is required.

FGF Signals Induce Caprin2 Expression in the Vertebrate Lens

The lens of the eye is derived from the non-neural ectoderm situated next to the optic vesicle. Fibroblast growth factor (FGF) signals play a major role at various stages of vertebrate lens development ranging from induction and proliferation to differentiation. Less is however known about the identity of genes that are induced by FGF activity within the lens. We have isolated and characterized mouse cytoplasmic activation/proliferation-associated protein-2 (Caprin2), with domains belonging to both the Caprin family and the C1q and tumour necrosis factor (TNF) super-family. Here we show that Caprin2 is expressed in the developing vertebrate lens in mouse and chick, and that Caprin2 expression is up-regulated in primary lens fiber cells, after the induction of crystallins the earliest known markers for differentiated lens fiber cells. Caprin2 is subsequently down-regulated in the centre of the lens at the time and at the position of the first fiber cell denucleation and terminal differentiation. In vitro analyses of lens fiber cell differentiation provide evidence that FGF activity emanating from neighboring prospective retinal cells is required and that FGF8 activity is sufficient to induce Caprin2 in lens fiber cells. These results not only provide evidence that FGF signals induce the newly characterized protein Caprin2 in the lens, but also support the general idea that FGF signals are required for lens fiber cell differentiation.

Optical Imaging of Islets: New Possibilities by the Development of Infrared Fluorescent Proteins

The capacity to record the spatial and quantitative distribution of cellular subtypes involved in diabetogenic processes is a key element in experimental diabetes research. A non-invasive technique to accurately monitor parameters such as pancreatic β-cell mass (BCM) and its distribution would provide a stepping stone in understanding different aspects of diabetes pathogenesis. It would also assist in the development of therapeutic regimes by providing a tool for the evaluation of anti-diabetic drugs or other curative or diagnostic measures. At present, a range of imaging modalities are being explored for this purpose. Whereas nuclear imaging techniques, characterised by their high tissue penetration depth but relatively low spatial resolution, appear most promising for the study of humans and large animals, optical imaging enables a route to cost-effective, high sensitivity, high resolution imaging in rodent models for disease. In this commentary, the potential impact of infrared fluorescent proteins (IFPs), as recently reported by Shu et al in Science, for imaging of the pancreas in small animals will be discussed.

Approaches for Imaging Islets: Recent Advances and Future Prospects

The establishment of improved technologies for imaging of the pancreas is a key element in addressing several aspects of diabetes pathogenesis. In this respect, the development of a protocol that allows for non-invasive scoring of human islets, or islet beta-cells, is of particular importance. The development of such a technology would have profound impact on both clinical and experimental medicine, ranging from early diagnosis of diabetes to the evaluation of therapeutic regimes. Another important task is the development of modalities for high-resolution imaging of experimental animal models for diabetes. Rodent models for diabetes research have for decades been instrumental to the diabetes research community. The ability to image, and to accurately quantify, key players of diabetogenic processes with molecular specificity will be of great importance for elucidating mechanistic aspects of the disease. This chapter aims to overview current progress within these research areas.

Quantification and Three-dimensional Imaging of the Insulitis-induced Destruction of Beta-cells in Murine Type 1 Diabetes

The aim of this study was to refine the information regarding the quantitative and spatial dynamics of infiltrating lymphocytes and remaining beta-cell volume during the progression of type 1 diabetes in the nonobese diabetic (NOD) mouse model of the disease.

Growth-limiting Role of Endothelial Cells in Endoderm Development

Endoderm development is dependent on inductive signals from different structures in close vicinity, including the notochord, lateral plate mesoderm and endothelial cells. Recently, we demonstrated that a functional vascular system is necessary for proper pancreas development, and that sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) exhibits the traits of a blood vessel-derived molecule involved in early pancreas morphogenesis. To examine whether S1P(1)-signaling plays a more general role in endoderm development, S1P(1)-deficient mice were analyzed. S1P(1) ablation results in compromised growth of several foregut-derived organs, including the stomach, dorsal and ventral pancreas and liver. Within the developing pancreas the reduction in organ size was due to deficient proliferation of Pdx1(+) pancreatic progenitors, whereas endocrine cell differentiation was unaffected. Ablation of endothelial cells in vitro did not mimic the S1P(1) phenotype, instead, increased organ size and hyperbranching were observed. Consistent with a negative role for endothelial cells in endoderm organ expansion, excessive vasculature was discovered in S1P(1)-deficient embryos. Altogether, our results show that endothelial cell hyperplasia negatively influences organ development in several foregut-derived organs.

An Improved Protocol for Optical Projection Tomography Imaging Reveals Lobular Heterogeneities in Pancreatic Islet and β-cell Mass Distribution

Optical projection tomography (OPT) imaging is a powerful tool for three-dimensional imaging of gene and protein distribution patterns in biomedical specimens. We have previously demonstrated the possibility, by this technique, to extract information of the spatial and quantitative distribution of the islets of Langerhans in the intact mouse pancreas. In order to further increase the sensitivity of OPT imaging for this type of assessment, we have developed a protocol implementing a computational statistical approach: contrast limited adaptive histogram equalization (CLAHE). We demonstrate that this protocol significantly increases the sensitivity of OPT imaging for islet detection, helps preserve islet morphology and diminish subjectivity in thresholding for tomographic reconstruction. When applied to studies of the pancreas from healthy C57BL/6 mice, our data reveal that, at least in this strain, the pancreas harbors substantially more islets than has previously been reported. Further, we provide evidence that the gastric, duodenal and splenic lobes of the pancreas display dramatic differences in total and relative islet and β-cell mass distribution. This includes a 75% higher islet density in the gastric lobe as compared to the splenic lobe and a higher relative volume of insulin producing cells in the duodenal lobe as compared to the other lobes. Altogether, our data show that CLAHE substantially improves OPT based assessments of the islets of Langerhans and that lobular origin must be taken into careful consideration in quantitative and spatial assessments of the pancreas.

Impaired Spleen Formation Perturbs Morphogenesis of the Gastric Lobe of the Pancreas

Despite the extensive use of the mouse as a model for studies of pancreas development and disease, the development of the gastric pancreatic lobe has been largely overlooked. In this study we use optical projection tomography to provide a detailed three-dimensional and quantitative description of pancreatic growth dynamics in the mouse. Hereby, we describe the epithelial and mesenchymal events leading to the formation of the gastric lobe of the pancreas. We show that this structure forms by perpendicular growth from the dorsal pancreatic epithelium into a distinct lateral domain of the dorsal pancreatic mesenchyme. Our data support a role for spleen organogenesis in the establishment of this mesenchymal domain and in mice displaying perturbed spleen development, including Dh +/-, Bapx1-/- and Sox11-/-, gastric lobe development is disturbed. We further show that the expression profile of markers for multipotent progenitors is delayed in the gastric lobe as compared to the splenic and duodenal pancreatic lobes. Altogether, this study provides new information regarding the developmental dynamics underlying the formation of the gastric lobe of the pancreas and recognizes lobular heterogeneities regarding the time course of pancreatic cellular differentiation. Collectively, these data are likely to constitute important elements in future interpretations of the developing and/or diseased pancreas.

Image Processing Assisted Algorithms for Optical Projection Tomography

Since it was first presented in 2002, optical projection tomography (OPT) has emerged as a powerful tool for the study of biomedical specimen on the mm to cm scale. In this paper, we present computational tools to further improve OPT image acquisition and tomographic reconstruction. More specifically, these methods provide: semi-automatic and precise positioning of a sample at the axis of rotation and a fast and robust algorithm for determination of postalignment values throughout the specimen as compared to existing methods. These tools are easily integrated for use with current commercial OPT scanners and should also be possible to implement in "home made" or experimental setups for OPT imaging. They generally contribute to increase acquisition speed and quality of OPT data and thereby significantly simplify and improve a number of three-dimensional and quantitative OPT based assessments.

Mathematical Models of Pancreatic Islet Size Distributions

The islets of Langerhans, ranging in size from clusters of a few cells to several thousand cells, are scattered near large blood vessels. While the beta-cell mass in mammals is proportional to body weight, the size ranges of islets are similar between species with different body sizes, possibly reflecting an optimal functional size. The large range of islet sizes suggests a stochastic developmental process. It is not fully understood how islets develop to reach such size distributions, and how their sizes change under certain physiological and pathological conditions such as development, pregnancy, aging, obesity, and diabetes. The lack of a high-resolution in vivo imaging technique for pancreatic islets implies that the only data available to elucidate the dynamics of islet development are cross-sectional quantifications of islet size distributions. In this review, we infer biological processes affecting islet morphology in the large by examining changes of islet size distributions. Neonatal islet formation and growth is shown as a particular example of developing a mathematical model of islet size distribution. Application of this modeling to elucidate islet changes under other conditions is also discussed.

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