Hard and soft X-ray imaging to resolve human ovarian cortical structures

Lorella Pascolo, Gabriela Sena, Alessandra Gianoncelli, Alice Cernogoraz, Geroge Kourousias, Brian D. Metscher, Federico Romano, Gabriella Zito, Serena Pacilè, Regina Barroso, Giuliana Tromba, Marina Zweyer, Giuseppe Ricci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Laboratory and synchrotron X-ray tomography are powerful tools for non-invasive studies of biological samples at micrometric resolution. In particular, the development of phase contrast imaging is enabling the visualization of sample details with a small range of attenuation coefficients, thus allowing in-depth analyses of anatomical and histological structures. Reproductive medicine is starting to profit from these techniques, mainly applied to animal models. This study reports the first imaging of human ovarian tissue where the samples consisted of surgically obtained millimetre fragments, properly fixed, stained with osmium tetroxide and included in epoxydic resin. Samples were imaged by the use of propagation phase contrast synchrotron radiation micro-computed tomography (microCT), obtained at the SYRMEP beamline of Elettra light source (Trieste, Italy), and X-ray absorption microCT at the Theoretical Biology MicroCT Imaging Laboratory in Vienna, Austria. The reconstructed microCT images were compared with the soft X-ray absorption and phase contrast images acquired at the TwinMic beamline of Elettra in order to help with the identification of structures. The resulting images allow the regions of the cortex and medulla of the ovary to be distinguished, identifying early-stage follicles and visualizing the distribution of blood vessels. The study opens to further application of micro-resolved 3D imaging to improve the understanding of human ovary's structure and support diagnostics as well as advances in reproductive technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1322-1329
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Synchrotron Radiation
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2019


  • Microtomography
  • Ovary
  • Phase contrast tomography
  • STXM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Instrumentation

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