The research was published in the scientific journal Communications Biology. LaserLaB VU physicists Johannes de Boer (senior author), Benjamin Lochocki (first author), Freek Ariese, Sander Verheul and Liron Zada contributed to the study.
No more staining of tissue
It is already known that the so-called plaque, an accumulation of the Alzheimer’s protein amyloid in the brain, plays an important role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers study these plaques and their etiology in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients after death. To do this, they have to do staining experiments in the laboratory on brain tissue. However, the staining of tissue is laborious and takes a lot of time.
With new label-free imaging techniques, they could skip these experiments and analyse brain tissue in its most native form – that is, unstained. Label-free means no staining of the tissue is done.
Lochocki: “In the present study, we applied two such label-free methods to the brain tissue of deceased Alzheimer’s patients. We found that the Alzheimer’s protein amyloid is folded differently in different types of plaques. We also discovered the presence of substances called carotenoids, which appear to be involved in the formation of Alzheimer’s plaques. Carotenoids appeared to be present only in a certain type of plaque and have previously been associated with the brain’s immune system.”