Organotypic tissue slices for culture

Organotypic cultured slices preserve the 3D cytoarchitecture of cell populations, and are an accessible system that allows for short- and long-term experimental manipulations. Thus, organotypic slice cultures, especially brain slice cultures for neuroscience, have become an outstanding tool in physiology research. 

Because organotypic slice cultures mean that tissue slices must be incubated in media and kept alive outside of the animal model, the survival of cells is the most important criterion to consider. For brain slices, neuron viability is crucial to allow for patch-clamp electrophysiology. Organotypic brain slices need to have a high ratio of viable neurons within the top few cellular layers that can be patch-clamped with ease. The process of cutting brain slices also needs to occur rapidly, to prevent neuron death before incubation of cultured slices. Therefore, the process requires a vibratome that can quickly make high quality acute brain slices without shearing neurons on the surface.

Common problems with organotypic slices for culture

In general in organotypic slice cultures, the older the animal, the less tissue survives and the greater degree of cell death. Thus, neuronal survival is the biggest challenge. Factors that influence neuron health of tissue slices include preparation speed, sterility, medium composition, and slice health after cutting.

One key problem with making acute brain slices or other live slices from different organ systems (heart, muscle, kidney, pancreas) is that many vibratomes on the market will shear the tissue while cutting. Their cutting blades will push against the brain sample because the tissue is not stabilized during the cutting process. Surface layer neurons of newly made acute brain slices suffer from shearing damage and die, resulting in a lack of healthy neurons for culture.

Making better organotypic slices for organotypic culture

Compresstome® Vibrating Microtome

The quality of your cultured slices will depend on the quality of your tissue slices from the very beginning. The Compresstome® vibrating microtome has been scientifically demonstrated to create superior tissue slices for slice cultures with a higher number of viable cells. How does the Compresstome® do this? Our vibrating microtome produces smooth, consistent tissue slices by:

    • Stabilizing the tissue specimen during the cutting process through 360-degree agarose embedding
    • Allowing for faster slicing, which decreases time of damage to cells
    • Utilizing a high-frequency vibrating mechanism to reduce trauma to the top surface of tissue slices
    • Reducing tissue shearing by eliminating the Z-axis deflection of the cutting blade using our patented Auto Zero-Z® technology

Compresstome® Vibrating microtomes

Looking for a vibratome? Need to make tissue slices?

Let our Compresstome® vibrating microtome be your vibratome of choice. Our microtome sections consistent, reliable tissue slices of high quality for electrophysiology, immunohistochemistry, culture slices, precision-cut tissue slices, and more.

With hundreds of publications featuring the Compresstome® vibrating microtome and almost 20 years of experience, we are a trusted source as tissue slicer experts.


Manual thickness advance


Fully Automated

For IHC, PCLS, Culture Slices


Fully Automated

Best for Electrophysiology


Larger Diameter Vibratome

For human, primates, whole organs


Real lab examples of our microtomes for slice cultures

Using the Compresstome® in Immunotherapy Research

Dr Astero Klampatsa (PhD) is a Team Leader in Cancer Immunotherapy at the Institute of Cancer Research, London, UK and a Senior Lecturer in King’s College London, UK. She focuses on developing novel CAR T cell therapies for mesothelioma and lung cancer, as well as the immunobiology of these malignancies for identification of markers of response to immunotherapy. In this webinar, Dr. Klampatsa will discuss how the Compresstome® was used to create precision-cut tumor slices (PCTS) as an ex vivo model for immunotherapy research.

Compresstome® for sectioning live myocardial slices for cardiac research

The Smyth Laboratory, led by James Smyth, Ph.D., studies cardiomyopathy at a subcellular level, searching for  potential targets for therapeutic interventions to help restore normal cardiac function to diseased hearts. In this video, Dr. James Smyth shows how to section live myocardial slices with the Precisionary Instrument’s VF-300 Compresstome®, and uses them for tissue culture and calcium imaging.

References and Protocols

Microtomes from Precisionary Instruments have been used by labs around the world, and cited in hundreds of peer-reviewed publications. Explore these references by experiment, animal model, and organ system. For convenience, we also put together key experimental protocols to help you.