VascuViz: a multimodality and multiscale imaging and visualization pipeline for vascular systems biology

Akanksha Bhargava, Benjamin Monteagudo, Priyanka Kushwaha, Janaka Senarathna, Yunke Ren, Ryan C. Riddle , Manisha Aggarwal and Arvind P. Pathak - The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA

Despite advances in imaging, image-based vascular systems biology has remained challenging because blood vessel data are often available only from a single modality or at a given spatial scale, and cross-modality data are difficult to integrate.

Therefore, there is an exigent need for a multimodality pipeline that enables ex vivo vascular imaging with magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography and optical microscopy of the same sample, while permitting imaging with complementary contrast mechanisms from the whole-organ to endothelial cell spatial scales. To achieve this, we developed ‘VascuViz’—an easy-to-use method for simultaneous three-dimensional imaging and visualization of the vascular microenvironment using magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography and optical microscopy in the same intact, unsectioned tissue. The VascuViz workflow permits multimodal imaging with a single labeling step using commercial reagents and is compatible with diverse tissue types and protocols. VascuViz’s interdisciplinary utility in conjunction with new data visualization approaches opens up new vistas in image-based vascular systems biology.