Saltman AJ, Barakat M, Bryant DM, Brodovskaya A, Whited JL. 2017. DiI Perfusion as a Method for Vascular Visualization in Ambystoma mexicanum. Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE. Pubmed: 28654050 DOI:10.3791/55740


Perfusion techniques have been used for centuries to visualize the circulation of tissues. Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) is a species of salamander that has emerged as an essential model for regeneration studies. Little is known about how revascularization occurs in the context of regeneration in these animals. Here we report a simple method for visualization of the vasculature in axolotl via perfusion of 1,1'-Dioctadecy-3,3,3',3'-tetramethylindocarbocyanine perchlorate (DiI). DiI is a lipophilic carbocyanine dye that inserts into the plasma membrane of endothelial cells instantaneously. Perfusion is done using a peristaltic pump such that DiI enters the circulation through the aorta. During perfusion, dye flows through the axolotl's blood vessels and incorporates into the lipid bilayer of vascular endothelial cells upon contact. The perfusion procedure takes approximately one hour for an eight-inch axolotl. Immediately after perfusion with DiI, the axolotl can be visualized with a confocal fluorescent microscope. The DiI emits light in the red-orange range when excited with a green fluorescent filter. This DiI perfusion procedure can be used to visualize the vascular structure of axolotls or to demonstrate patterns of revascularization in regenerating tissues.

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Jessica Whited studies limb regeneration in axolotl salamanders. Her lab develops tools to manipulate gene expression during limb regeneration, and explores signaling events following wound healing that initiate the regenerative process.

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