Volume electron microscopy enables the ultrastructural analysis of biological tissue. Currently, the techniques involving ultramicrotomy (ATUM, ssTEM) allow large fields of view but afford only limited z-resolution, whereas ion beam-milling approaches (FIB-SEM) yield isotropic voxels but are restricted in volume size. Now we present a hybrid method, named ATUM-FIB, which combines the advantages of both approaches. ATUM-FIB is based on serial sectioning of tissue into ‘‘semithick’’ (2–10 mm) sections collected onto tape. Serial light and electron microscopy allows the identification of regions of interest that are then directly accessible for targeted FIB-SEM. The set of semithick sections thus represents a tissue ‘‘library’’ which provides three-dimensional context information that can be probed ‘‘on demand’’ by local high-resolution analysis. We demonstrate the potential of this technique to reveal the ultrastructure of rare but pathologically important events by identifying microglia contact sites with amyloid plaques in a mouse model of familial Alzheimer’s disease.
SyNergy Nanoscale Hub, Technical University Munich