A histologic approach is irreplaceable when examining tissues and multicellular structures grown in 3D cell cultivations. Understanding the histological structures of normal tissues is a prerequisite for the study of physiology and pathology. This field is demanding on the imagination as we have to link the view of the studied structure from the light microscopic level to its ultrastructure and at the same time we have to understand the three-dimensional arrangement of its building components. For this purpose, we use a three-dimensional reconstruction of cells and tissues. In their practical coursework students now have the chance to make their own digital images of tissues and to use them together with interactive e-courses during their self-study.
A broad interdisciplinary approach
We prepare histologic samples, slices (for example paraffin-embedded, semi-thin or ultrathin for transmission electron microscopy), special staining of tissues (histochemical or immunohistochemical detection), microscopic examination, description and interpretation of findings, image analysis as well as taking micro-photographic images. We also have laboratories for cultivation of (stem) cells and a laboratory for molecular morphology. We provide a base for the experimental endeavors of students from other fields of natural science, preparation of their bachelor or diploma theses or even for PhD dissertations. We are also expanding our contacts abroad. Our postdoctoral fellows do their research fellowships, for example, at the University of Oslo, Singapore or Galway (Ireland) and their research topics range from research of stem and cancer cells to the analysis of mitochondrial complexes.
The first in Central Europe
Traditional research topics at our department are the healing of tissue lesions, including regeneration of axons and angiogenesis. The appearance of new methods of isolating tissue specific stem cells has expanded this scope. In 1995, we became the first institution in Central Europe to introduce the method of isolating and cultivating neural stem cells and characterizing their behavior and differentiation potential in vitro and after transplantation in recipients. We provided the findings from our research to other work places and we used them as well during the research of other types of stem cells and progenitor cells, for example cells from bone, dental pulp and periodontal ligaments, and ES and iPS cells. We have received funding for the research of mesenchymal cells within the 7th framework EU program called Purstem. Besides in vitro analysis, we study the tissue microenvironment (niche) of stem cells in the subependymal layer during the neurodegenerative process in striatum caused by Huntington's disease. We also use animal models for observing cell participation in the healing of tissues, for example regeneration of muscle tissue which we induce via local injection of cardiotoxin, while irradiation (either local or of the entire body) serves for suppressing a hemopoiesis and immune response of organism. With the availability of pluripotent cells, the possibility of modelling the growth of tissue in 3D cultures has begun to appear, as has the study of signalling pathways involved in the regulation of self-renewal and the differentiation of cells. The application of knowledge of such regulation to a guided differentiation can enable in vitro generation of any cell type.