3D-Imaging of Whole Neuronal and Vascular Networks of the Human Dental Pulp via CLARITY and Light Sheet Microscopy

Cristiane Miranda França, Rachelle Riggers, John L. Muschler, Matthias Widbiller, Peter Manning Lococo, Anibal Diogenes, Luiz Eduardo Bertassoni

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20 Scopus citations


Direct visualization of the spatial relationships of the dental pulp tissue at the whole-organ has remained challenging. CLARITY (Clear Lipid-exchanged Acrylamide Tissue hYdrogel) is a tissue clearing method that has enabled successful 3-dimensional (3D) imaging of intact tissues with high-resolution and preserved anatomic structures. We used CLARITY to study the whole human dental pulp with emphasis on the neurovascular components. Dental pulps from sound teeth were CLARITY-cleared, immunostained for PGP9.5 and CD31, as markers for peripheral neurons and blood vessels, respectively, and imaged with light sheet microscopy. Visualization of the whole dental pulp innervation and vasculature was achieved. Innervation comprised 40% of the dental pulp volume and the vasculature another 40%. Marked innervation morphological differences between uni- and multiradicular teeth were found, also distinct neurovascular interplays. Quantification of the neural and vascular structures distribution, diameter and area showed that blood vessels in the capillary size range was twice as high as that of nerve fibers. In conclusion whole CLARITY-cleared dental pulp samples revealed 3D-morphological neurovascular interactions that could not be visualized with standard microscopy. This represents an outstanding tool to study the molecular and structural intricacies of whole dental tissues in the context of disease and treatment methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number10860
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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