Morphometric Analysis of Rat Spinal Cord Angioarchitecture by Phase Contrast Radiography: From 2D to 3D Visualization

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Study Design.

An advanced imaging of vasculature with synchrotron radiation X-ray in a rat model.


To develop the potential for quantitative assessment of vessel network from two-dimensional (2D) to 3D visualization by synchrotron radiation X-ray phase contrast tomography (XPCT) in rat spinal cord model.

Summary of Background Data.

Investigation of microvasculature contributes to the understanding of pathological development of spinal cord injury. A few of X-ray imaging is available to visualize vascular architecture without usage of angiography or invasive casting preparation.


A rat spinal cord injury model was produced by modified Allen method. Histomorphometric detection was simultaneously analyzed by both histology and XPCT from 2D to 3D visualization. The parameters including tissue lesion area, microvessel density, vessel diameter, and frequency distribution of vessel diameter were evaluated.


XPCT rendered the microvessels as small as capillary scale with a pixel size of 3.7 μm. It presented a high linear concordance for characterizing the 2D vascular morphometry compared with the histological staining (r2 = 0.8438). In the presence of spinal cord injury model, 3D construction quantified the significant angioarchitectural deficiency in the injury epicenter of cord lesion (P<0.01).


XPCT has a great potential to detect the smallest vascular network with pixel size up to micron dimension. It is inferred that the loss of abundant microvessels (≤40 μm) is responsible for local ischemia and neural dysfunction. XPCT holds a promise for morphometric analysis from 2D to 3D imaging in experimental model of neurovascular disorders.


Level of Evidence: N/A

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