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Preclinical imaging facility, hosted at CEINGE

Created: Wednesday, 22 April 2015 - 11:31
Last modified: Tuesday, 18 October 2016 - 16:23


 "Excellence in research is based on excellence in animal welfare and health"


Preclinical imaging has become a powerful tool in biomedical research, allowing the non-invasive detection of biomarkers of disease. It enables the collection of anatomical, functional and dynamic imaging data from living experimental animals, including genetically modified models.

Preclinical imaging approaches provide the unique opportunity to perform longitudinal studies of the same animal, minimizing experimental variability and number of animals per study, refining preclinical research procedures in agreement with the 3Rs principles. Moreover, imaging represents a valuable translational tool between preclinical research and clinical trials. 

The facility for preclinical imaging at CEINGE hosts diagnostic equipments for structural and functional imaging in small rodents and morphofunctional characterization of animal models of human diseases, to bridge the gap between in vitro biomedical research and in vivo molecular research programs (development and testing of novel molecular probes).

The facility is equipped with:

      1. Ultrasound Biomicroscopy (UBM)

      2. Functional tomography (SPECT)

      3. Functional and structural tomography (PET-CT)

      4. High resolution CT (microCT)

      5. Dual Energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA)

      6. Laser Doppler Imaging (LDPI)

      7. Optical Imaging (bioluminescence, 2D and tomographic 3D fluorescence)

      8. Photoacoustic Imaging (PAI)

      9. High Field Magnetic Resonance (MRI)

-  VEVO 2100 (VisualSonics®) is a state-of-the-art high resolution ultrasound instrument designed to examine small laboratory animals, in vivo  and non-invasively. The high frequency of the ultrasound used (range 20-70 MHz) allows the qualitative assessment and accurate measurements of anatomical structures and the quantification of physiological data in adults, neonatal and embryonic small laboratory animals.

The Ultrasound Biomicroscopy operating modalities includes:

o   B-mode

o   M-mode

o   PW Doppler Mode

o   Tissue Doppler Imaging (TDI)

o   LV automated analysis, blood pressure and volume

o   advanced program of cardiovascular measuring

o   contrast mode program of acquisition and analysis

o   gas anesthesia system

o   microinjection system

Such applications allow studies in oncological (tumor growth, treatment effects), neuroscience, developmental biology and cardiovascular (morphofunctional, hemodynamic studies) research programs and echoguided microinjections.

 Explore Vista PET/CT is a scanner for multimodal imaging, combining Computed Tomography and Positron Emission Tomography, with positron emitting radiopharmaceuticals, used in different research fields:

o   neuroscience

o   oncology

o   cardiology

o   animal models of human pathologies:

§  transgenic mice models

§  pharmacokinetics studies of new therapeutical agent

§  gene therapy studies

§  innovative imaging protocols development

§  new radiopharmaceuticals development for diagnostic and therapeutic use

The association with CT adds anatomical information at high resolution. The scanner is equipped with a dual-ring configuration of detectors for a trans-axial FOV of 6.7 cm and axial FOV of 4.8 cm, a laser alignment system and a software for data acquisition, reconstruction and images visualization. The PET spatial resolution is 1.6 mm FWHM, the CT resolution is 200 µm.
MicroPET-CT imaging allows longitudinal studies on the same animal, giving the opportunity of monitoring the pharmacological treatment effect on the same subject or disease progression.

    eXplore Vista PET-CT datasheet

                                              eXplore Vista PET-CT manual

                                              HANDS-ON GUIDE eXplore Vista PET-CT

Explore Locus microCT is an high resolution CT scanner (93-45-27 µm) for preclinical studies on small laboratory animals, based volumetric cone beam CT technology.

MicroCT finds useful application in different research fields:

o   bone tissues pathologies (measurement of volumetric  bone density and cortical bone)

o   oncology (visualization of primary neoplasia and metastasis, angiogenesis evaluation)

o   respiratory pathologies

o   cardiovascular pathologies

o   phenotyping characterization of transgenic mice models

  eXplore Locus CT manual

                                                    MicroView 2.0 manual

LUNAR PIXIMUS is a dedicated DEXA scanner for preclinical studies requiring the evaluation of the body components variations and monitoring of the potential treatments effects.

DEXA allows bone tissue analysis of the following parameters:

o   BMD = Bone mineral density (g/cm2)

o   BMC = Bone mineral content (g)

o   B Area (cm2) and soft tissue evaluation:

and soft tissue evaluation:

o   Lean (g)

o   Fat (g)

o   Total (g)

o   % Fat


- PERIMED PIM II is a Laser Doppler Imaging scanner that can be used for non invasive monitoring of superficial microcirculation in healthy or diseased tissues, in different research areas such as angiogenesis study in ischemic limbs; treatment response to administration of vascular growth factors; skin neoplasias, for assessment of growth and neovascularization.

                                         HANDS-ON GUIDE PERISCAN PIM II
                                         HANDS-ON GUIDE PERISCAN PIM II QC

    - Xenogen IVIS 200 is a preclinical optical imaging system used for visualization and monitoring of cell trafficking and gene expression in vivo. This technique finds application in different research fields, such as:

-       study of promoter or enhancers regions function and the mutations /deletions effect

-       neoplasia growing and metastatization monitoring

-       study of protein interaction in vivo

            XENOGEN IVIS 200 manual    

FMT 4000 
is a preclinical tomographic 3D fluorescence imaging system, and is useful for a range of biomedical applications in the fields of oncology, inflammation and cardiovascular diseases. FMT 4000 comes with 4  excitation laser channels, with wavelengths in the NIR spectrum (635, 680, 750 and 790 nm), and is able to make acquisitions up to four fluorophores simultaneously, to mark different biological targets of interest.

       TrueQuant manual

Vevo LAZR Photoacoustic Imaging technology (VisualSonics®) for preclinical imaging integrates the sensitivity of optical imaging with the resolution of high-frequency ultrasound, to provide insights into tissue microenvironment and hemodynamic changes,  addressing the needs of different biological research areas. This imaging platform allows multispectral imaging with multiple wavelengths (680-970 nm), detection and quantification of high-resolution and functional photoacoustic signals and assessment of oxy- and deoxy-hemoglobin, with high sensitivity and specificity – even in deep tissues – with real-time and 3D imaging capabilities. Vevo LAZR gives researchers the opportunity to study a wide range of animal models from embryos to adults, with the advantages of inherent co-registration in both 2D and 3D planes of photoacoustic and anatomical images, facilitating biomarker development and longitudinal studies in translational research. Moreover, Vevo LAZR  is able to detect and quantify photoacoustic contrast agents, such as gold nanorods and carbon nanotubes that have emerged in recent years as specific, customizable agents with the potential to developing biomarkers for cancer detection and  marking of genetic mutations cancer-associated, to improve early detection and treatment of neoplasias.

       Vevo LAZR manual

                                                              Vevo LAZR Applications Feature Sheet

- BRUKER BioSpec is a 9.4T superconducting scanner that can accommodate small laboratory animals. MRI is an extremely versatile modality that can be used for highly detailed images of soft tissues (such as the brain and liver), and to collect dynamic, functional and metabolic information in vivo. Specialized techniques enable the study of fat distribution, brain microstructure and metabolism, brain function and cardiac function, cellular and molecular imaging. CryoProbe technology, together with ultra high field magnet, delivers high spatial resolution in vivo enabling to come closer to the molecular and cellular level.

The facility is managed by a team of researchers with a wide experience in preclinical research:

-    Physicists and Engineers with expertise in medical imaging

-   Veterinarians with expertise in preclinical imaging and for global support of animal care and preparation of animal studies (anesthesia, interventional procedures, image acquisition and post-processing)

-   Chemical and radiochemical

-   Biologists and biotechnologists with expertise in molecular imaging

The facility includes also an area for housing dedicated to mice undergoing to longitudinal imaging experiments, an animal preparation/microsurgery area, and is equipped with inhalant anesthesia systems and physiologic monitoring.

For safety and operational manuals, please contact sara.gargiulo@ibb.cnr.it

Standard operative procedures (SOPs) for preclinical imaging

Animal Experimentation-Legislation in Italy and European Countries 

These sites provide information about the most relevant aspects of the general management of a modern laboratory animal facility in all its aspects, with particular attention to legislative updates, new technological developments, scientific needs of research, and alternative methods to the use of  experimental animal models:

Webmaster and developer: Marco Comerci
For problems and suggestions: adminibb.cnr.it
Last updated: Friday 23 June 2017, 14:42:05