Neuronal Imaging - Research Program


Project: Multi-modal optical coherence tomography probe for detection and monitoring of Alzheimer’s disease

(A) Schematic of the OCT system. (B) Blood distribution (OCT angiography image). (C) OCT. elastography (OCE) signal and result of obtaining the biomechanical properties of retina, respectively. (D) OCE results of retina from wild type and AD mouse model.

This research project aims to develop low-cost, non-invasive imaging methods to detect and monitor the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in patients. Studies have shown that the retina, a central nervous system tissue formed as a developmental outgrowth of the brain, is profoundly affected by AD. Many detectable disease-specific symptoms that can be used to detect AD in the early stage or to monitor the progress of AD development, such as substantial ganglion cell degeneration, thinning of the retinal nerve fiber layer, and loss of axonal projections in the optic nerve. These changes, as well as the known gathering of amyloid β-protein (Aβ) plaques, can further alter the biomechanical properties of retina. We designed and investigated a spectrum domain, portable, label free Optical coherence tomography (OCT) system to acquire real-time, high-resolution 3D retina images to identify and extract quantitative features of eye volumes, nerve and blood vessel distributions, and biomechanical properties of lens and retina in real time and then combine these features into training a deep learning model to detect and classify stages of the disease. It can serve a great tool to assess retinal abnormalities in vivo and provide multiple parameters for the distinction between normal aged individuals and patients with neurodegenerative diseases. Since OCT has been widely used in clinics to detect and monitor ophthalmology diseases, the detection and monitoring of neurodegenerative diseases can be performed during routine ophthalmology examinations.

Project: Intravital multi-photon imaging for brain disorder studies

The intra-vital multi-photon microscopy at the TT & WF Chao Center for BRAIN allows in vivo, dynamic subcellular resolution imaging beyond the depth limits of conventional confocal microscopy. Using this in vivo imaging technique, various neural cells and brain tumor cells as well as their interaction could be visualized within the brain tissue of a living small animal model. An additional SIM scanner and various associated laser beams enable simultaneous multi-photon imaging with direct laser stimulation, allowing the researchers not only to view and capture remarkable 3-D images of tissues, but also to stimulate and excite specific cells or networks of associated cells in order to probe biological mechanisms and develop therapeutic strategies.

Details of related cellular and tissue imaging equipment are available here.