Distortion in formalin-fixed brains: Using geometric morphometrics to quantify the worst-case scenario in mice

Weisbecker, Vera (2012) Distortion in formalin-fixed brains: Using geometric morphometrics to quantify the worst-case scenario in mice. Brain Structure and Function, 217 2: 677-685. doi:10.1007/s00429-011-0366-1

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Author Weisbecker, Vera
Title Distortion in formalin-fixed brains: Using geometric morphometrics to quantify the worst-case scenario in mice
Journal name Brain Structure and Function   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0044-2232
1863-2661
Publication date 2012-04
Year available 2011
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s00429-011-0366-1
Volume 217
Issue 2
Start page 677
End page 685
Total pages 9
Place of publication Heidelberg, Germany
Publisher Springer
Collection year 2012
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Although morphometric studies of fixed mammalian brains are an integral part of neuroscience, the nature of fixation-related morphometric artifacts is not well understood beyond assessments of size changes over fixation time. This study is the first to quantitatively co-evaluate the effects of the most common brain tissue fixative—formalin—on brain shape, size, and weight, using two-dimensional landmark analysis of mouse brains fixed in unbuffered, non-saline formalin from fresh specimens up to 213 days of preservation. The brains show a typical swelling reaction with subsequent decline in size and weight. Weight initially under- and later over-estimates size, so that the practice of using weight to estimate volume can be problematic. Time to recovery of original size resembled that of much larger brained mammals, suggesting that the slow reaction of formalin with tissue components mainly determines recovery times. Non-size related (anisotropic) distortion of different brain areas accounted for around a quarter of overall change suggesting that the use of “all-brain” fixation correction factors can introduce considerable error. Distortion occurs mostly after the first day of fixation, and extended fixation times impact mostly on size, not shape. Fixation effects relatively wider and stouter brain dimensions, except the cerebellum whose shape changes less. Evidence from the literature suggests that this pattern may be common to mammals due to structural commonalities.
Keyword Formalin
Fixation
Distortion
Brain
Geometric morphometrics
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published online: 04 December 2011

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2012 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
 
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 12 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 13 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Fri, 23 Mar 2012, 15:22:02 EST by Gail Walter on behalf of School of Biological Sciences