Imaging technique shows Alzheimer's disease progress

November 23, 2017 by Wiebe Van Der Veen
Imaging technique shows progress Alzheimer's disease
The high-lighted squares (left) are the 30 by 30 micron areas in the middle and right images (upper: plaque, lower: tangle)  . Credit: University of Twente

Using 'Raman' optical technology, scientists of the University of Twente, can now produce images of brain tissue that is affected by Alzheimer's disease. The images also include the surrounding areas, already showing changes.

Alzheimer's disease is associated with areas of high protein concentration in : plaques and tangles. Raman imaging is now used to get sharp images of these affected areas. It is an attractive technique, because it shows more than the specific proteins involved. The presence of water and lipids, influenced by protein presence, can also be detected. Using this technique, the researchers have studied brain tissue of four brain donors, three of them with Alzheimer's disease.

Transition

The affected area can, in this way, be shown in a sharp and clear way. After image processing, even an area appears that is in transition between healthy and affected tissue: this may give an indication how the disease is spreading in the brain. Even in the brain tissue of the healthy person, a small area is detected with activity. This can be a first sign of a neurodegenerative disease.

Raman microscopy uses a laser beam for the detection of chemical substances. The energy of the reflected and scattered light gives an indication of the substances present in a sample. In each of the four brain samples, 4096 spectra were examined in this way. A major advantage of Raman is that the chemicals don't need a pretreatment, it is 'label free'. In chemical analysis, Raman has proven to be a powerful technique.

Imaging technique shows progress Alzheimer's disease
Raman image showing the core of the affected areas (in red) and also transition areas: light grey is healthy tissue, dark grey isn't affected yet but already undergoing changes.  Credit: University of Twente

Smaller than a cell

In this case, Raman was used to examine brain tissue outside the body, but it could even be used 'in vivo' for detecting specific areas during surgery. Compared to MRI, PET and CT imaging, Raman is able to detect areas, smaller than cells, with very high precision. In this way, it can be a very valuable extra technique. The Raman images now show at neural cell level, but the sensitivity is high enough for detecting areas that are even smaller – as is the case with the brain sample of the healthy person.

Cees Otto, of the Medical Cell Biophysics group of UT, published his work in Scientific Reports, together with colleagues from Leiden University and from Spain and Austria.

The paper 'Hyperspectral Raman imaging of neuritic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in from Alzheimer's disease patients, by Ralph Michael, Aufried Lenferink, Gijs Vrensen, Ellen Gelpi, Rafael Barraquer en Cees Otto', appears in a coming issue of Scientific Reports.

Explore further: Here's what we think Alzheimer's does to the brain

More information: Ralph Michael et al. Hyperspectral Raman imaging of neuritic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in brain tissue from Alzheimer's disease patients, Scientific Reports (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-16002-3

Related Stories

Here's what we think Alzheimer's does to the brain

November 6, 2017
Around 50m people worldwide are thought to have Alzheimer's disease. And with rapidly ageing populations in many countries, the number of sufferers is steadily rising.

New imaging technique in Alzheimer's disease opens up possibilities for drug development

September 28, 2016
Tau PET is a new and promising imaging method for Alzheimer's disease. A case study from Lund University in Sweden now confirms that tau PET images correspond to a higher degree to actual changes in the brain. According to ...

New technique permits cell-specific examination of proteins in Alzheimer's brain tissue

October 21, 2015
Using 10-year-old archival brain tissue from patients with Alzheimer's disease, a research team from NYU Langone Medical Center has developed a novel method to examine the structure and function of proteins at the cell level—providing ...

Recommended for you

Major cause of dementia discovered

December 11, 2017
An international team of scientists have confirmed the discovery of a major cause of dementia, with important implications for possible treatment and diagnosis.

Canola oil linked to worsened memory and learning ability in Alzheimer's

December 7, 2017
Canola oil is one of the most widely consumed vegetable oils in the world, yet surprisingly little is known about its effects on health. Now, a new study published online December 7 in the journal Scientific Reports by researchers ...

Genetics study suggests that education reduces risk of Alzheimer's disease

December 7, 2017
The theory that education protects against Alzheimer's disease has been given further weight by new research from the University of Cambridge, funded by the European Union. The study is published today in the BMJ.

Healthy mitochondria could stop Alzheimer's

December 6, 2017
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia and neurodegeneration worldwide. A major hallmark of the disease is the accumulation of toxic plaques in the brain, formed by the abnormal aggregation of a protein called ...

Alzheimer's damage in mice reduced with compound that targets APOE gene

December 6, 2017
People who carry the APOE4 genetic variant face a substantial risk for developing Alzheimer's disease.

Lithium in water associated with slower rate of Alzheimer's disease deaths

December 5, 2017
Rates of diabetes and obesity, which are important risk factors for Alzheimer's disease, also decrease if there is a particular amount of lithium in the water, says the study, published recently in the Journal of Alzheimer's ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.