Multimodal Optical Imaging Combining Optical Coherence Tomography and Brillouin Microscopy to Study Murine Neural Tube

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Over 300,000 babies are born with severe neural tube defects (NTD) each year worldwide. NTDs occur when the development of the central nervous system structure is unable to close properly early in embryonic development. This leads to a variety of birth defects, such as spina bifida which leaves a section of the spinal cord and spinal nerves exposed. Fusion of the neural plate is one of the biomechanical events that take place during neural tube closure (NTC) and biomechanical properties like tissue stiffness can affect this process as NTC requires a crucial balance between forces and neural plate tissue stiffness to obtain proper fusion. Understanding the balance and relationship between forces and tissue stiffness is needed to effectively detect, prevent, and treat NTDs. The use of both structural and biomechanical imaging of the neural tube formation and closure allows for this proper understanding. Brillouin spectroscopy is a noninvasive and noncontact optical imaging technique that utilizes light scattering that can view tissue stiffness. However, Brillouin spectroscopy is unable to provide structural information, which is crucial for understanding the physical location of tissue stiffness. Optical coherence tomography (OCT), a noninvasive and well-established optical imaging technique, can provide the 3D structural details needed with high resolution.

Electrical Engineering