High-resolution 3D imaging of fixed and cleared organoids

Johanna F Dekkers, Maria Alieva, Lianne M Wellens, Hendrikus C R Ariese, Paul R Jamieson, Annelotte M Vonk, Gimano D Amatngalim, Huili Hu, Koen C Oost, Hugo J G Snippert, Jeffrey M Beekman, Ellen J Wehrens, Jane E Visvader, Hans Clevers, Anne C Rios

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

228 Citations (Scopus)


In vitro 3D organoid systems have revolutionized the modeling of organ development and diseases in a dish. Fluorescence microscopy has contributed to the characterization of the cellular composition of organoids and demonstrated organoids' phenotypic resemblance to their original tissues. Here, we provide a detailed protocol for performing high-resolution 3D imaging of entire organoids harboring fluorescence reporters and upon immunolabeling. This method is applicable to a wide range of organoids of differing origins and of various sizes and shapes. We have successfully used it on human airway, colon, kidney, liver and breast tumor organoids, as well as on mouse mammary gland organoids. It includes a simple clearing method utilizing a homemade fructose-glycerol clearing agent that captures 3D organoids in full and enables marker quantification on a cell-by-cell basis. Sample preparation has been optimized for 3D imaging by confocal, super-resolution confocal, multiphoton and light-sheet microscopy. From organoid harvest to image analysis, the protocol takes 3 d.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1756-1771
Number of pages16
JournalNature Protocols
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • Animals
  • Breast/ultrastructure
  • Colon/ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional/methods
  • Immunohistochemistry/methods
  • Kidney/ultrastructure
  • Liver/ultrastructure
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Confocal/methods
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence/methods
  • Optical Imaging/methods
  • Organoids/ultrastructure
  • Tissue Fixation/methods


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