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Yaroshenko, Andre; Hellbach, Katharina; Yildirim, Ali Önder; Conlon, Thomas M.; Fernandez, Isis Enlil; Bech, Martin; Velroyen, Astrid; Meinel, Felix G.; Auweter, Sigrid; Reiser, Maximilian; Eickelberg, Oliver and Pfeiffer, Franz (2015): Improved In vivo Assessment of Pulmonary Fibrosis in Mice using X-Ray Dark-Field Radiography. In: Scientific Reports, Vol. 5, 17492 [PDF, 4MB]

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Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a chronic and progressive lung disease with a median life expectancy of 4-5 years after initial diagnosis. Early diagnosis and accurate monitoring of IPF are limited by a lack of sensitive imaging techniques that are able to visualize early fibrotic changes at the epithelial-mesenchymal interface. Here, we report a new x-ray imaging approach that directly visualizes the air-tissue interfaces in mice in vivo. This imaging method is based on the detection of small-angle x-ray scattering that occurs at the air-tissue interfaces in the lung. Small-angle scattering is detected with a Talbot-Lau interferometer, which provides the so-called x-ray dark-field signal. Using this imaging modality, we demonstrate-for the first time-the quantification of early pathogenic changes and their correlation with histological changes, as assessed by stereological morphometry. The presented radiography method is significantly more sensitive in detecting morphological changes compared with conventional x-ray imaging, and exhibits a significantly lower radiation dose than conventional x-ray CT. As a result of the improved imaging sensitivity, this new imaging modality could be used in future to reduce the number of animals required for pulmonary research studies.

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