The mouse subventricular zone (SVZ) produces neurons throughout life. It is useful for mechanism discovery and is relevant for regeneration. However, the SVZ is deep, significantly restricting live imaging since current methods do not extend beyond a few hundred microns. We developed and adapted three-photon microscopy (3PM) for non-invasive deep brain imaging in live mice, but its utility in imaging the SVZ niche was unknown. Here, with fluorescent dyes and genetic labeling, we show successful 3PM imaging in the whole SVZ, extending to a maximum depth of 1.5 mm ventral to the dura mater. 3PM imaging distinguished multiple SVZ cell types in postnatal and juvenile mice. We also detected fine processes on neural stem cells interacting with the vasculature. Previous live imaging removed overlying cortical tissue or lowered lenses into the brain, which could cause inflammation and alter neurogenesis. We found that neither astrocytes nor microglia become activated in the SVZ, suggesting 3PM does not induce major damage in the niche. Thus, we show for the first time 3PM imaging of the SVZ in live mice. This strategy could be useful for intravital visualization of cell dynamics, molecular, and pathological perturbation and regenerative events.
3-photon, microscopy, mouse, neurogenesis, subventricular zone