Intravital imaging of the microcirculation represents a scientific method bridging the gap between molecular microvascular research and clinical studies. Imaging devices includes intravital microscopy (IVM) and related technologies (e.g., Sidestream Dark-Field Imaging – SDF). Potential fields of research are inflammation, cancer angiogenesis, arteriosclerosis and others. Recent IVM work showed that immune cell responses to antigens in situ are different from those observed in vitro and appear to be dictated by factors uniquely relevant to the micro-environment of the intact organs. IVM can potentially generate new discoveries and serve as a “reality check” for areas of research that were formerly the exclusive domain of in vitro experimentation. Moreover, using new generation intravital molecular imaging microscopy it is possible for the first time to visualize directly specific pathological processes and to explain more in detail pharmacological mechanisms. Especially the SDF method provides the tools for translational research from the bench to the bedside for a variety of organs. This book describes intravital microcirculation imaging of the brain, liver, intestine, joints, sublingual area and the eye. It is intended as a compendium for preclinical and clinical microcirculatory experimentation. It includes not only experimental techniques but also examples for scientific projects that can be performed using the specific methods. Therefore, it will be a valuable reference guide for basic researchers as well as for clinical scientists.
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