Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Microscope Heating Stages

In microscopy, an increasing number of investigations are using live-cell imaging techniques to provide critical insight into the fundamental nature of cellular and tissue function, especially due to the rapid advances in fluorescent protein and synthetic fluorophore technology. Because of these advances, live-cell imaging is being utilized in most cell biology laboratories, as well as in the fields of neurobiology, developmental biology, pharmacology, and many other related biomedical research disciplines. A major challenge in performing successful live-cell imaging experiments is keeping the cells in a healthy state and functioning normally on the microscope stage while being illuminated in the presence of synthetic fluorophores and/or fluorescent proteins.

Advances in scientific methods and protocols in the last few decades have allowed cells and cellular activity to be studied in great detail by providing a natural environment through the control of temperature, humidity and gas ratios in an incubator. If the samples are removed for more than a short period of time, the cellular processes begin to exhibit stress, deterioration begins and the tissue or cells are no longer in an optimal state.

It is important that when using a microscope heating stage, the entire bottom of the stage is heated to eliminate temperature gradient. Temperature should remain stable, as fluctuations can damage specimens.