The heart is a dynamic organ that quickly undergoes morphological and mechanical changes through early embryonic development. Characterizing these early moments is important for our understanding of proper embryonic development and the treatment of heart disease. Traditionally, tomographic imaging modalities and fluorescence-based microscopy are excellent approaches to visualize structural features and gene expression patterns, respectively, and connect aberrant gene programs to pathological phenotypes. However, these approaches usually require static samples or fluorescent markers, which can limit how much information we can derive from the dynamic and mechanical changes that regulate heart development. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is unique in this circumstance because it allows for the acquisition of three-dimensional structural and four-dimensional (3D + time) functional images of living mouse embryos without fixation or contrast reagents. In this chapter, we focus on how OCT can visualize heart morphology at different stages of development and provide cardiodynamic information to reveal mechanical properties of the developing heart.
Optical coherence tomography Cardiovascular development Embryo culture Heart morphogenesis Cardiodynamic analysis Mouse Live imaging
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This work is supported by the National Institute of Health with grants R01HL120140, U54HG006348, R01HD086765, and T32HL07676, and by the Optical Imaging and Vital Microscopy Core at Baylor College of Medicine.
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