diceCT: a valuable technique to study the nervous system of fishes Academic Article uri icon


  • Contrast-enhanced X-ray imaging provides a non-destructive and flexible approach to optimizing contrast in soft tissues, especially when incorporated with Lugol's solution (aqueous I2KI), a technique currently referred to as diffusible iodine-based contrast-enhanced computed tomography (diceCT). This stain exhibits high rates of penetration and results in excellent contrast between and within soft tissues, including the central nervous system. Here, we present a staining method for optimizing contrast in the brain of a cartilaginous fish, the brownbanded bamboo shark, Chiloscyllium punctatum, and a bony fish, the common goldfish, Carassius auratus, using diceCT. The aim of this optimization procedure is to provide suitable contrast between neural tissue and background tissue(s) of the head, thereby facilitating digital segmentation and volumetric analysis of the central nervous system. Both species were scanned before staining and were rescanned at time (T) intervals, either every 48 h (C. punctatum) or every 24 h (C. auratus), to assess stain penetration and contrast enhancement. To compare stain intensities, raw X-ray CT data were reconstructed using air and water calibration phantoms that were scanned under identical conditions to the samples. Optimal contrast across the brain was achieved at T = 240 h for C. punctatum and T = 96 h for C. auratus Higher resolution scans of the whole brain were obtained at the two optimized staining times for all the corresponding specimens. The use of diceCT provides a new and valuable tool for visualizing differences in the anatomic organization of both the central and peripheral nervous systems of fish.


  • Camilieri-Asch, Victoria
  • Shaw, Jeremy A
  • Mehnert, Andrew
  • Yopak, Kara E
  • Partridge, Julian C
  • Collin, Shaun

publication date

  • 2020

published in