Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) is used for three-dimensional (3-D) analysis of synaptic connections in neuroscience research. However, 3-D reconstruction of the synapses using serial ultrathin sections is a powerful but tedious approach requiring advanced technical skills. High-voltage electron microscopy (HVEM) allows examination of thicker sections of biological specimens due to the increased penetration of the more accelerated electrons, which is useful to analyze the 3-D structure of biological specimens. However, it is still difficult to visualize the neural networks and synaptic connections in 3-D using HVEM because of insufficient and non uniform heavy metal staining in the membranous structures in semi-thin sections. Here, we present the successful chemical 3-D neuroanatomy of the rat spinal dorsal horn at the ultrastructural level as a first step for effective synaptome analysis by applying a high-contrast en bloc staining method to immune-HVEM tomography. Our new approach made it possible to examine many itch-mediating synaptic connections and neural networks in the spinal cord simultaneously using HVEM tomography. This novel 3-D electron microscopy is very useful for the analysis of synaptic structure and the chemical neuroanatomy at the 3-D ultrastructural level.
- High-voltage electron microscopy
- Itch sensation
- Spinal cord
- Three-dimensional analysis
ASJC Scopus subject areas