Tutorial: practical considerations for tissue clearing and imaging

Kurt R. Weiss, Fabian F. Voigt, Douglas P. Shepherd, Jan Huisken

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Tissue clearing has become a powerful technique for studying anatomy and morphology at scales ranging from entire organisms to subcellular features. With the recent proliferation of tissue-clearing methods and imaging options, it can be challenging to determine the best clearing protocol for a particular tissue and experimental question. The fact that so many clearing protocols exist suggests there is no one-size-fits-all approach to tissue clearing and imaging. Even in cases where a basic level of clearing has been achieved, there are many factors to consider, including signal retention, staining (labeling), uniformity of transparency, image acquisition and analysis. Despite reviews citing features of clearing protocols, it is often unknown a priori whether a protocol will work for a given experiment, and thus some optimization is required by the end user. In addition, the capabilities of available imaging setups often dictate how the sample needs to be prepared. After imaging, careful evaluation of volumetric image data is required for each combination of clearing protocol, tissue type, biological marker, imaging modality and biological question. Rather than providing a direct comparison of the many clearing methods and applications available, in this tutorial we address common pitfalls and provide guidelines for designing, optimizing and imaging in a successful tissue-clearing experiment with a focus on light-sheet fluorescence microscopy (LSFM).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2732-2748
Number of pages17
JournalNature protocols
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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