Red Blood Cells

After assembling my foldscope, my first impulse was to take a drop of my blood and image it. Sadly,  the result was not as good as I expected.

Sample of my blood
Sample of my blood

Blood is a very complex fluid, it packs a large amount of cells, and a thick sample as the one I imaged is going to produce a bad image. Light is coming from everywhere in the sample, and the image will be very blurry.

My second attempt came after reading this post: http://microcosmos.foldscope.com/2015/01/14/experiments-with-blood/

First, I need a very thin sample, just one cell thick. In order to get it, I put a drop of blood on a coverslip, and with a second coverslip I smeared the blood. And the result is strikingly good. In order to check the progress, I covered the smeared sample with a second coverslip, sealed it, and had a look under the microscope. And surprisingly, I was able to see the Red Blood Cells!

Untreated Red Blood Cells
Untreated Red Blood Cells

The Red Blood Cells are clearly visible and their biconcave shape is apparent.

Then, I decided to go a step further, fix the cells and stain them. I went around the house, and the most promising staining that I found was iodine. Iodine is an antiseptic, present in most medicine cabinets. It has a deep red color, and it reacts with starch and sugars, changing to a purple-blue color. My hope was that, if it attaches to membranes and structures, it would remain redish, and if it attaches to nuclear material, it would turn bluish. So, I fixed the sample with 95% ethanol. After 5 minutes, I rinsed it several times with water. I covered the sample with 1% iodine solution, and rinsed it again several times with water. I covered the sample with a second coverslip and sealed it. When imaging the sample so treated, I get clearly distinguishable pale-red Red Blood Cells (sorry if the color is not so apparent in the pictures), but unfortunately, no nuclei, so I was not able to see any white blood cells.

RBC stained with iodineRBC stained with iodine

 

 

 

 

 

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Manu Prakash says:

    Beautiful work @Manuel. I really like the images and the stains. Keep an eye for neutrophils – specially if you can get them live. This way you can recreate the famous movie where a neutrophil chases a bacteria

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=I_xh-bkiv_c

    An easy way to isolate neutrophils is to put a drop of fresh blood on a cover slip and keep it on your skin (37 C) for a minute or two. The neutrophil will stick while you can wash off the blood cells.

    Give it a try; it would be incredible to recreate the famous movie using a foldscope 🙂

    Cheers
    Manu

  2. manu_g says:

    Well, my next idea was with a different sample, but now I want to try this. The goal behind not staining the sample (second image) was to try and keep everything alive, and it turns out we can get a good enough contrast. I will try the temperature trick and upload the results. Thank you for the idea.

  3. laksiyer says:

    This looks really great. That trick to get neutrophils is amazing, need to try it. With eosin and methylene blue, you should be able to see WBCs too.
    https://microcosmos.foldscope.com/2015/01/18/experiments-with-blood-ii-staining-white-blood-cells/

    All the best.

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