Oliver Bracko , Jean C Cruz Hernandez, Laibaik Park, Nozomi Nishimura and Chris B Schaffer
Journal of Cerebral Blood flow and Metabolism (2021)
Reductions of baseline cerebral blood flow (CBF) of ∼10–20% are a common symptom of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) that appear early in disease progression and correlate with the severity of cognitive impairment. These CBF deficits are replicated in mouse models of AD and recent work shows that increasing baseline CBF can rapidly improve the performance of AD mice on short term memory tasks. Despite the potential role these data suggest for CBF reductions in causing cognitive symptoms and contributing to brain pathology in AD, there remains a poor understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms causing them. This review compiles data on CBF reductions and on the correlation of AD-related CBF deficits with disease comorbidities (e.g. cardiovascular and genetic risk factors) and outcomes (e.g. cognitive performance and brain pathology) from studies in both patients and mouse models, and discusses several potential mechanisms proposed to contribute to CBF reductions, based primarily on work in AD mouse models. Future research aimed at improving our understanding of the importance of and interplay between different mechanisms for CBF reduction, as well as at determining the role these mechanisms play in AD patients could guide the development of future therapies that target CBF reductions in AD.
Kaja Falkenhain, Nancy E. Ruiz-Uribe, Mohammad Haft-Javaherian, Muhammad Ali, Stall Catchers, Pietro E. Michelucci, Chris B. Schaffer, Oliver Bracko
PLOS ONE (2020)
Exercise exerts a beneficial effect on the major pathological and clinical symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease in humans and mouse models of the disease. While numerous mechanisms for such benefits from exercise have been proposed, a clear understanding of the causal links remains elusive. Recent studies also suggest that cerebral blood flow in the brain of both Alzheimer’s patients and mouse models of the disease is decreased and that the cognitive symptoms can be improved when blood flow is restored. We therefore hypothesized that the mitigating effect of exercise on the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease may be mediated through an increase in the otherwise reduced brain blood flow. To test this idea, we performed a pilot study to examine the impact of three months of voluntary wheel running in a small cohort of ~1-year-old APP/PS1 mice on short-term memory function, brain inflammation, amyloid deposition, and baseline cerebral blood flow. Our findings that exercise led to a trend toward improved spatial short-term memory, reduced brain inflammation, markedly increased neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus, and a reduction in hippocampal amyloid-beta deposits are consistent with other reports on the impact of exercise on the progression of Alzheimer’s related symptoms in mouse models. Notably, we did not observe any impact of wheel running on overall baseline blood flow nor on the incidence of non-flowing capillaries, a mechanism we recently identified as one contributing factor to cerebral blood flow deficits in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease. Overall, our findings add to the emerging picture of differential effects of exercise on cognition and blood flow in Alzheimer’s disease pathology by showing that capillary stalling is not decreased following exercise
Nancy E. Ruiz-Uribe, Oliver Bracko
Protocol Exchange (2020)
This protocol describes a method to extract brain tissue and whole blood samples to perform immunostaining, protein extraction for ELISA, western blot, or RNA extraction for qPCR after long-term in vivo imaging. This protocol is in particular useful to process and maintain valuable tissue samples, allowing for a broad spectrum of analysis and techniques without compromising the quality of the samples.
Oliver Bracko, Lindsay K. Vinarcsik, Jean C. Cruz Hernández, Nancy E. Ruiz-Uribe, Mohammad Haft-Javaherian, Kaja Falkenhain, Egle M. Ramanauskaite, Muhammad Ali, Aditi Mohapatra, Madisen A. Swallow, Brendah N. Njiru, Victorine Muse, Pietro E. Michelucci, Nozomi Nishimura & Chris B. Schaffer
Scientific Reports (2020)
Obesity is linked to increased risk for and severity of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Cerebral blood flow (CBF) reductions are an early feature of AD and are also linked to obesity. We recently showed that non-flowing capillaries, caused by adhered neutrophils, contribute to CBF reduction in mouse models of AD. Because obesity could exacerbate the vascular inflammation likely underlying this neutrophil adhesion, we tested links between obesity and AD by feeding APP/PS1 mice a high fat diet (Hfd) and evaluating behavioral, physiological, and pathological changes. We found trends toward poorer memory performance in APP/PS1 mice fed a Hfd, impaired social interactions with either APP/PS1 genotype or a Hfd, and synergistic impairment of sensory-motor function in APP/PS1 mice fed a Hfd. The Hfd led to increases in amyloid-beta monomers and plaques in APP/PS1 mice, as well as increased brain inflammation. These results agree with previous reports showing obesity exacerbates AD-related pathology and symptoms in mice. We used a crowd-sourced, citizen science approach to analyze imaging data to determine the impact of the APP/PS1 genotype and a Hfd on capillary stalling and CBF. Surprisingly, we did not see an increase in the number of non-flowing capillaries or a worsening of the CBF deficit in APP/PS1 mice fed a Hfd as compared to controls, suggesting that capillary stalling is not a mechanistic link between a Hfd and increased severity of AD in mice. Reducing capillary stalling by blocking neutrophil adhesion improved CBF and short-term memory function in APP/PS1 mice, even when fed a Hfd.
Amanda J. Bares, Menansili A. Mejooli, Mitchell A. Pender, Scott A. Leddon, Steven Tilley, Karen Lin, Jingyuan Dong, Minsoo Kim, Deborah J. Fowell, Nozomi Nishimura, and Chris B. Schaffer
The insensitivity of multiphoton microscopy to optical scattering enables high-resolution, high-contrast imaging deep into tissue, including in live animals. Scattering does, however, severely limit the use of spectral dispersion techniques to improve spectral resolution. In practice, this limited spectral resolution together with the need for multiple excitation wavelengths to excite different fluorophores limits multiphoton microscopy to imaging a few, spectrally distinct fluorescent labels at a time, restricting the complexity of biological processes that can be studied. Here, we demonstrate a hyperspectral multiphoton microscope that utilizes three different wavelength excitation sources together with multiplexed fluorescence emission detection using angle-tuned bandpass filters. This microscope maintains scattering insensitivity, while providing high enough spectral resolution on the emitted fluorescence and capitalizing on the wavelength-dependent nonlinear excitation of fluorescent dyes to enable clean separation of multiple, spectrally overlapping labels, in vivo. We demonstrated the utility of this instrument for spectral separation of closely overlapped fluorophores in samples containing 10 different colors of fluorescent beads, live cells expressing up to seven different fluorescent protein fusion constructs, and in multiple in vivo preparations in mouse cortex and inflamed skin, with up to eight different cell types or tissue structures distinguished.
Nathaniel H. Allan-Rahill, Michael R. E. Lamont, William M. Chilian, Nozomi Nishimura and David M. Small
Frontiers in Immunology (2020)
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of worldwide mortality. Intravital microscopy has provided unprecedented insight into leukocyte biology by enabling the visualization of dynamic responses within living organ systems at the cell-scale. The heart presents a uniquely dynamic microenvironment driven by periodic, synchronous electrical conduction leading to rhythmic contractions of cardiomyocytes, and phasic coronary blood flow. In addition to functions shared throughout the body, immune cells have specific functions in the heart including tissue-resident macrophage-facilitated electrical conduction and rapid monocyte infiltration upon injury. Leukocyte responses to cardiac pathologies, including myocardial infarction and heart failure, have been well-studied using standard techniques, however, certain questions related to spatiotemporal relationships remain unanswered. Intravital imaging techniques could greatly benefit our understanding of the complexities of in vivo leukocyte behavior within cardiac tissue, but these techniques have been challenging to apply. Different approaches have been developed including high frame rate imaging of the beating heart, explantation models, micro-endoscopy, and mechanical stabilization coupled with various acquisition schemes to overcome challenges specific to the heart. The field of cardiac science has only begun to benefit from intravital microscopy techniques. The current focused review presents an overview of leukocyte responses in the heart, recent developments in intravital microscopy for the murine heart, and a discussion of future developments and applications for cardiovascular immunology.
Sung Ji Ahn, Nancy E. Ruiz-Uribe, Baoqiang Li, Jason Porter, Sava Sakadzic, and Chris B. Schaffer
Biomedical Optics Express (2020)
We show that third harmonic generation (THG) microscopy using a 1-MHz train of 1,300-nm femtosecond duration laser pulses enabled visualization of the structure and quantification of flow speed in the cortical microvascular network of mice to a depth of > 1 mm. Simultaneous three-photon imaging of an intravascular fluorescent tracer enabled us to quantify the cell free layer thickness. Using the label-free imaging capability of THG, we measured flow speed in different types of vessels with and without the presence of an intravascular tracer conjugated to a high molecular weight dextran (2 MDa FITC-dextran, 5% w/v in saline, 100 µl). We found a ∼20% decrease in flow speeds in arterioles and venules due to the dextran-conjugated FITC, which we confirmed with Doppler optical coherence tomography. Capillary flow speeds did not change, although we saw a ∼7% decrease in red blood cell flux with dextran-conjugated FITC injection.
Sandy Chan, Morgan Brophy, Nozomi Nishimura, Chris B. Schaffer
PLoS ONE (2019)
Microhemorrhages are common in the aging brain and are thought to contribute to cognitive decline and the development of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Chronic aspirin therapy is widespread in older individuals and decreases the risk of coronary artery occlusions and stroke. There remains a concern that such aspirin usage may prolong bleeding after a vessel rupture in the brain, leading to larger bleeds that cause more damage to the surrounding tissue. Here, we aimed to understand the influence of aspirin usage on the size of cortical microhemorrhages and explored the impact of age. We used femtosecond laser ablation to rupture arterioles in the cortex of both young (2–5 months old) and aged (18–29 months old) mice dosed on aspirin in their drinking water and measured the extent of penetration of both red blood cells and blood plasma into the surrounding tissue. We found no difference in microhemorrhage size for both young and aged mice dosed on aspirin, as compared to controls (hematoma diameter = 104 +/- 39 (97 +/- 38) μm in controls and 109 +/- 25 (101 +/- 28) μm in aspirin-treated young (aged) mice; mean +/- SD). In contrast, young mice treated with intravenous heparin had an increased hematoma diameter of 136 +/- 44 μm. These data suggest that aspirin does not increase the size of microhemorrhages, supporting the safety of aspirin usage.
Amy F. Smith, Vincent Doyeux, Maxime Berg, Myriam Peyrounette, Mohammad Haft-Javaherian, Anne-Edith Larue, John H. Slater, Frédéric Lauwer, Pablo Blinder, Philbert Tsai, David Kleinfeld, Chris B. Schaffer, Nozomi Nishimura, Yohan Davit and Sylvie Lorthois
Frontiers in physiology (2019)
Despite the key role of the capillaries in neurovascular function, a thorough characterization of cerebral capillary network properties is currently lacking. Here, we define a range of metrics (geometrical, topological, flow, mass transfer, and robustness) for quantification of structural differences between brain areas, organs, species, or patient populations and, in parallel, digitally generate synthetic networks that replicate the key organizational features of anatomical networks (isotropy, connectedness, space-filling nature, convexity of tissue domains, characteristic size). To reach these objectives, we first construct a database of the defined metrics for healthy capillary networks obtained from imaging of mouse and human brains. Results show that anatomical networks are topologically equivalent between the two species and that geometrical metrics only differ in scaling. Based on these results, we then devise a method which employs constrained Voronoi diagrams to generate 3D model synthetic cerebral capillary networks that are locally randomized but homogeneous at the network-scale. With appropriate choice of scaling, these networks have equivalent properties to the anatomical data, demonstrated by comparison of the defined metrics. The ability to synthetically replicate cerebral capillary networks opens a broad range of applications, ranging from systematic computational studies of structure-function relationships in healthy capillary networks to detailed analysis of pathological structural degeneration, or even to the development of templates for fabrication of 3D biomimetic vascular networks embedded in tissue-engineered constructs.
Meiqi Wu, David M. Small, Nozomi Nishimura, Steven G. Adie
Journal of Biomedical Optics (2019)
The compromise between lateral resolution and usable imaging depth range is a bottleneck for optical coherence tomography (OCT). Existing solutions for optical coherence microscopy (OCM) suffer from either large data size and long acquisition time or a nonideal point spread function. We present volumetric OCM of mouse brain ex vivo with a large depth coverage by leveraging computational adaptive optics (CAO) to significantly reduce the number of OCM volumes that need to be acquired with a Gaussian beam focused at different depths. We demonstrate volumetric reconstruction of ex-vivo mouse brain with lateral resolution of 2.2 μm, axial resolution of 4.7 μm, and depth range of ∼1.2 mm optical path length, using only 11 OCT data volumes acquired on a spectral-domain OCM system. Compared to focus scanning with step size equal to the Rayleigh length of the beam, this is a factor of 4 fewer datasets required for volumetric imaging. Coregistered two-photon microscopy confirmed that CAO-OCM reconstructions can visualize various tissue microstructures in the brain. Our results also highlight the limitations of CAO in highly scattering media, particularly when attempting to reconstruct far from the focal plane or when imaging deep within the sample.