Longitudinal intravital imaging of mouse placenta.


Studying placental functions is crucial for understanding pregnancy complications. However, imaging placenta is challenging due to its depth, volume, and motion distortions. In this study, we have developed an implantable placenta window in mice that enables high-resolution photoacoustic and fluorescence imaging of placental development throughout the pregnancy. The placenta window exhibits excellent transparency for light and sound. By combining the placenta window with ultrafast functional photoacoustic microscopy, we were able to investigate the placental development during the entire mouse pregnancy, providing unprecedented spatiotemporal details. Consequently, we examined the acute responses of the placenta to alcohol consumption and cardiac arrest, as well as chronic abnormalities in an inflammation model. We have also observed viral gene delivery at the single-cell level and chemical diffusion through the placenta by using fluorescence imaging. Our results demonstrate that intravital imaging through the placenta window can be a powerful tool for studying placenta functions and understanding the placental origins of adverse pregnancy outcomes.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Zhu, Xiaoyi, Qiang Huang, Laiming Jiang, Van-Tu Nguyen, Tri Vu, Garth Devlin, Jabbar Shaima, Xiaobei Wang, et al. (2024). Longitudinal intravital imaging of mouse placenta. Science advances, 10(12). p. eadk1278. 10.1126/sciadv.adk1278 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/30645.

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Liping Feng

Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Liping Feng, MD's research has focused on understanding the mechanisms of pregnancy complications associated with placental development. These works are translated then to the clinical care of women through studies dedicated to identify risk factors and novel biomarkers for early prediction and prevention of adverse birth outcomes.

Dr. Feng devotes her entire career to improving pregnancy outcomes through innovative research. Dr. Feng conducts both basic science/laboratory research, as well as participates in clinical studies. Her laboratory has focused on understanding the mechanisms of placenta-originated pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia and still birth, which are important causes of perinatal and neonates’ mortality and morbidity. Currently, she has three lines of investigation focused on the roles of inflammation/infection, cell aging, and environmental exposure in placental development and subsequent pregnancy complications.

In addition, Dr. Feng has established an international collaboration in Global Women’s Health. She has affiliated with the Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI) and participates in a DGHI research. She has an interest in DGHI education, and service or policy initiatives, including mentoring and teaching graduate and professional students on fieldwork and research.


Junjie Yao

Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Our mission at PI-Lab is to develop state-of-the-art photoacoustic tomography (PAT) technologies and translate PAT advances into diagnostic and therapeutic applications, especially in functional brain imaging and early cancer theranostics. PAT is the most sensitive modality for imaging rich optical absorption contrast over a wide range of spatial scales at high speed, and is one of the fastest growing biomedical imaging technologies. Using numerous endogenous and exogenous contrasts, PAT can provide high-resolution images at scales covering organelles, cells, tissues, organs, small-animal organisms, up to humans, and can reveal tissue’s anatomical, functional, metabolic, and even histologic properties, with molecular and neuronal specificity.

At PI-Lab, we develop PAT technologies with novel and advanced imaging performance, in terms of spatial resolutions, imaging speed, penetration depth, detection sensitivity, and functionality. We are interested with all aspects of PAT technology innovations, including efficient light illumination, high-sensitivity ultrasonic detection, super-resolution PAT, high-speed imaging acquisition, novel PA genetic contrast, and precise image reconstruction. On top of the technological advancements, we are devoted to serve the broad life science and medical communities with matching PAT systems for various research and clinical needs. With its unique contrast mechanism, high scalability, and inherent functional and molecular imaging capabilities, PAT is well suited for a variety of pre-clinical applications, especially for studying tumor angiogenesis, cancer hypoxia, and brain disorders; it is also a promising tool for clinical applications in procedures such as cancer screening, melanoma staging, and endoscopic examination.

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