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Images from cultured lens cells do not convey enough spatial information, and imaging of fixed lens specimens cannot reveal dynamic changes in the cells. As such, a real-time, convenient approach for monitoring label-free imaging of dynamic processes of living cells within the whole lens is urgently needed. Female Wistar rat lenses were kept in organ culture. Insulin-like growth factor-I was added to the culture medium to induce cell mitosis. A novel method of ultraviolet (UV) irradiation was used to induce cell apoptosis and fiber damage. The cellular morphological dynamics within the whole lens were monitored by inverted phase contrast microscopy. Apoptosis was assessed using a commercial kit with Hoechst 33342/YO-PRO®-1/propidium iodide (PI). The intrinsic transparency and low-light scattering property of the rat lens permitted direct imaging of the lens epithelial cells (LECs) and the superficial fiber cells. We visualized the processes of mitosis and apoptosis of the LECs, and we obtained dynamic images of posterior fiber cells following UVA irradiation. This method opens a new window for observing lens cells in their physiologic location, and it can be readily applied in studies on lens physiology and pathology.


Zhiying Kong, Xiangjia Zhu, Shenghai Zhang, Jihong Wu, Yi Luo. Phase contrast microscopy of living cells within the whole lens: spatial correlations and morphological dynamics. Molecular vision. 2012;18:2165-73

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PMID: 22879736

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