Artefacts in volume data generated with high resolution episcopic microscopy (HREM)

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High resolution episcopic microscopy (HREM) produces digital volume data by physically sectioning histologically processed specimens, while capturing images of the subsequently exposed block faces. Our study aims to systematically define the spectrum of typical artefacts inherent to HREM data and to research their effect on the interpretation of the phenotype of wildtype and mutant mouse embryos. A total of 607 (198 wildtypes, 409 mutants) HREM data sets of mouse embryos harvested at embryonic day (E) 14.5 were systematically and comprehensively examined. The specimens had been processed according to essentially identical protocols. Each data set comprised 2000 to 4000 single digital images. Voxel dimensions were 3 × 3 × 3 µm3. Using 3D volume models and virtual resections, we identified a number of characteristic artefacts and grouped them according to their most likely causality. Furthermore, we highlight those that affect the interpretation of embryo data and provide examples for artefacts mimicking tissue defects and structural pathologies. Our results aid in optimizing specimen preparation and data generation, are vital for the correct interpretation of HREM data and allow distinguishing tissue defects and pathologies from harmless artificial alterations. In particular, they enable correct diagnosis of pathologies in mouse embryos serving as models for deciphering the mechanisms of developmental disorders.

Journal details

Journal Biomedicines
Volume 9
Issue number 11
Pages 1711
Available online
Publication date

Crick labs/facilities

Crick authors

Crick First author
Crick Corresponding author