Cardiovascular diseases are complex pathologies that include alterations of various cell functions at the levels of intact tissue, single cells and subcellular signalling compartments. Conventional techniques to study these processes are extremely divergent and rely on a combination of individual methods, which usually provide spatially and temporally limited information on single parameters of interest. This review describes scanning ion conductance microscopy (SICM) as a novel versatile technique capable of simultaneously reporting various structural and functional parameters at nanometre resolution in living cardiovascular cells at the level of the whole tissue, single cells and at the subcellular level, to investigate the mechanisms of cardiovascular disease. SICM is a multimodal imaging technology that allows concurrent and dynamic analysis of membrane morphology and various functional parameters (cell volume, membrane potentials, cellular contraction, single ion-channel currents and some parameters of intracellular signalling) in intact living cardiovascular cells and tissues with nanometre resolution at different levels of organization (tissue, cellular and subcellular levels). Using this technique, we showed that at the tissue level, cell orientation in the inner and outer aortic arch distinguishes atheroprone and atheroprotected regions. At the cellular level, heart failure leads to a pronounced loss of T-tubules in cardiac myocytes accompanied by a reduction in Z-groove ratio. We also demonstrated the capability of SICM to measure the entire cell volume as an index of cellular hypertrophy. This method can be further combined with fluorescence to simultaneously measure cardiomyocyte contraction and intracellular calcium transients or to map subcellular localization of membrane receptors coupled to cyclic adenosine monophosphate production. The SICM pipette can be used for patch-clamp recordings of membrane potential and single channel currents. In conclusion, SICM provides a highly informative multimodal imaging platform for functional analysis of the mechanisms of cardiovascular diseases, which should facilitate identification of novel therapeutic strategies.
- Heart failure
- Scanning ion conductance microscopy
- Vascular disease
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering