High-resolution Volume Imaging of Neurons by the Use of Fluorescence EXclusion Method and Dedicated Microfluidic Devices

This article has been accepted and is currently in production


Volume is an important parameter regarding physiological and pathological characteristics of neurons at different time scales. Neurons are quite unique cells regarding their extended ramified morphologies and consequently raise several methodological challenges for volume measurement. In the particular case of in vitro neuronal growth, the chosen methodology should include sub-micrometric axial resolution combined with full-field observation on time scales from minutes to hours or days. Unlike other methods like cell shape reconstruction using confocal imaging, electrically-based measurements or Atomic Force Microscopy, the recently developed Fluorescence eXclusion method (FXm) has the potential to fulfill these challenges. However, although being simple in its principle, implementation of a high-resolution FXm for neurons requires multiple adjustments and a dedicated methodology. We present here a method based on the combination of fluorescence exclusion, low-roughness multi-compartments microfluidic devices, and finally micropatterning to achieve in vitro measurements of local neuronal volume. The high resolution provided by the device allowed us to measure the local volume of neuronal processes (neurites) and the volume of some specific structures involved in neuronal growth, such as growth cones (GCs).