Method for three-dimensional visualization of neurodegeneration in cupric-silver stained serial rat brain slices

Leonid Bunegin, Gleb P. Tolstykh, Jerry F. Gelineau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The spatial distribution of neurodegeneration in brains is difficult to visualize when working from 2-D serial slices. In studies where repetitive operant behavior measurements are made over several weeks following organic solvent exposure, definitive evidence of degeneration in brain structures may have been significantly cleared by the time the tissue is prepared histologically. The only remaining evidence that injury has occurred may be nothing more than neuronal and cellular debris. By choosing stains that are specific for this type of residual and/or indicative of specific pathology, a 3-D representation of the spatial distribution of the neuronal and cellular debris fields within the organ can be highlighted and displayed. We present a method for visualizing the spatial distribution of neuronal degeneration that can result from low-level organic solvent exposure scenarios. A cupric-silver stain highly specific for neuronal degeneration is used to identify neuronal debris fields in 73 serial slices of brains of rodents that were exposed to toluene vapors. Serial brain sections stained with cupric-silver are scanned at 600 dpi using a gray-scale protocol. Using commercially available software, scans are assembled into 3-D images showing both topographical and internal anatomical details. The reassembled images are further processed into stereo pairs. Grayscale scans are compared to the original sections to establish grayscale ranges for healthy and damaged tissue and artifact staining.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number024012
JournalJournal of Biomedical Optics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2005


  • Brain
  • Cupric-silver stain
  • Histopathology
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Rat
  • Three-dimensional
  • Toluene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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