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Journal Article

Public volume electron microscopy data: An essential resource to study the brain microvasculature


Kornfeld,  Jörgen
Research Group: Circuits of Birdsong / Kornfeld, MPI of Neurobiology, Max Planck Society;

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Bonney, S. K., Coelho-Santos, V., Huang, S. F., Takeno, M., Kornfeld, J., Keller, A., et al. (2022). Public volume electron microscopy data: An essential resource to study the brain microvasculature. Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology, 10: 849469. doi:10.3389/fcell.2022.849469.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000A-7569-D
Electron microscopy is the primary approach to study ultrastructural features of the cerebrovasculature. However, 2D snapshots of a vascular bed capture only a small fraction of its complexity. Recent efforts to synaptically map neuronal circuitry using volume electron microscopy have also sampled the brain microvasculature in 3D. Here, we perform a meta-analysis of 7 data sets spanning different species and brain regions, including two data sets from the MICrONS consortium that have made efforts to segment vasculature in addition to all parenchymal cell types in mouse visual cortex. Exploration of these data have revealed rich information for detailed investigation of the cerebrovasculature. Neurovascular unit cell types (including, but not limited to, endothelial cells, mural cells, perivascular fibroblasts, microglia, and astrocytes) could be discerned across broad microvascular zones. Image contrast was sufficient to identify subcellular details, including endothelial junctions, caveolae, peg-and-socket interactions, mitochondria, Golgi cisternae, microvilli and other cellular protrusions of potential significance to vascular signaling. Additionally, non-cellular structures including the basement membrane and perivascular spaces were visible and could be traced between arterio-venous zones along the vascular wall. These explorations revealed structural features that may be important for vascular functions, such as blood-brain barrier integrity, blood flow control, brain clearance, and bioenergetics. They also identified limitations where accuracy and consistency of segmentation could be further honed by future efforts. The purpose of this article is to introduce these valuable community resources within the framework of cerebrovascular research. We do so by providing an assessment of their vascular contents, identifying features of significance for further study, and discussing next step ideas for refining vascular segmentation and analysis.