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This study is aimed at characterizing soft tissue slices using a vibratome. In particular, the effect of two sectioning parameters (i.e. step size and sectioning speed) on resultant slice thickness was investigated for fresh porcine liver as well as for paraformaldehyde-fixed (PFA-fixed) and fresh murine brain. A simple framework for embedding, sectioning and imaging the slices was established to derive their thickness, which was evaluated through a purposely developed graphical user interface. Sectioning speed and step size had little effect on the thickness of fresh liver slices. Conversely, the thickness of PFA-fixed murine brain slices was found to be dependent on the step size, but not on the sectioning speed. In view of these results, fresh brain tissue was sliced varying the step size only, which was found to have a significant effect on resultant slice thickness. Although precision-cut slices (i.e. with regular thickness) were obtained for all the tissues, slice accuracy (defined as the match between the nominal step size chosen and the actual slice thickness obtained) was found to increase with tissue stiffness from fresh liver to PFA-fixed brain. This quantitative investigation can be very helpful for establishing the most suitable slicing setup for a given tissue.
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