Optical projection tomography (OPT) is a relatively new technology that is especially well suited to the 3D imaging of “mesoscopic” specimens (those from about 1 to 10 mm across). It is fundamentally different from optical sectioning techniques such as confocal microscopy, since it does not attempt to limit data acquisition to a narrow focused 2D plane. Instead, it is an optical equivalent of computed tomography (CT), in which projection images are captured for many angles around the specimen and the 3D results are calculated using a back-projection algorithm. Volumetric data sets can be generated from both bright-field and fluorescent images. OPT has seen the development of a wide range of applications over the last five years, especially in the field of developmental biology, and increasingly for the analysis of whole mouse organs (such as the pancreas, brain and lungs). Within these contexts, it is particularly useful for mapping gene expression patterns at both RNA and protein levels. In this chapter, both the principles of the technology and the range of applications will be introduced. A few potential directions for the future will be summarized at the end.


Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease Virtual Histology Optical Projection Tomography Virtual Section Edinburgh Mouse Atlas Project 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ICREA (Catalan Institute for Advanced Research and Education), EMBL-CRG Systems Biology UnitCentre for Genomic Regulation, UPFBarcelonaSpain

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