Scanning Microscopy


The laser scanning confocal microscope (LSCM) is an extremely useful tool that allows fluorescently labelled cells to be visualized in whole-mount preparations. This is particularly advantageous, for example, in studying the dendritic trees of neurons with respect to their environment.

One of the most popular, and easiest, ways to visualize a cell is to inject it intracellularly with the fluorophore Lucifer Yellow (LY). However, the argon gas lasers of most LSCM's are not well matched to the excitation spectrum of aqueous LY. When this largely inappropriate excitation is combined with standard filters, designed for fluorescein fluorescence rather than Lucifer Yellow, the resulting image is poor.

We report that clearing LY-injected neurons in methyl salicylate and mounting them in Entellan, a non-aqueous medium of high refractive index, enhances their visualization on a Bio-Rad LSCM with standard fluorescein (FITC) filters to an unexpected degree. This technique also leads to a substantial reduction in photobleaching.

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