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Brain and blood extraction for immunostaining, protein, and RNA measurements after long-term two photon imaging in mice

Nancy E. Ruiz-Uribe, Oliver Bracko

Protocol Exchange (2020)

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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.

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High fat diet worsens Alzheimer’s disease-related behavioral abnormalities and neuropathology in APP/PS1 mice, but not by synergistically decreasing cerebral blood flow

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)

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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.

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Intravital Microscopy of the Beating Murine Heart to Understand Cardiac Leukocyte Dynamics

Nathaniel H. Allan-Rahill, Michael R. E. Lamont, William M. Chilian, Nozomi Nishimura and David M. Small

Frontiers in Immunology (2020)

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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.

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Label-free assessment of hemodynamics in individual cortical brain vessels using third harmonic generation microscopy

Sung Ji Ahn, Nancy E. Ruiz-Uribe, Baoqiang Li, Jason Porter, Sava Sakadzic, and Chris B. Schaffer

Biomedical Optics Express (2020)

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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.

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Aspirin treatment does not increase microhemorrhage size in young or aged mice

Sandy Chan, Morgan Brophy, Nozomi Nishimura, Chris B. Schaffer

PLoS ONE (2019)

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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.

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Brain Capillary Networks Across Species: A few Simple Organizational Requirements Are Sufficient to Reproduce Both Structure and Function

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)

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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.

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Computed optical coherence microscopy of mouse brain ex vivo

Meiqi Wu, David M. Small, Nozomi Nishimura, Steven G. Adie

Journal of Biomedical Optics (2019)

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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.

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Deep convolutional neural networks for segmenting 3D in vivo multiphoton images of vasculature in Alzheimer disease mouse models

Mohammad Haft-Javaherian, Linjing Fang, Victorine Muse, Chris B. Schaffer, Nozomi Nishimura, Mert R. Sabuncu

PLoS ONE (2019)

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The health and function of tissue rely on its vasculature network to provide reliable blood perfusion. Volumetric imaging approaches, such as multiphoton microscopy, are able to generate detailed 3D images of blood vessels that could contribute to our understanding of the role of vascular structure in normal physiology and in disease mechanisms. The segmentation of vessels, a core image analysis problem, is a bottleneck that has prevented the systematic comparison of 3D vascular architecture across experimental populations. We explored the use of convolutional neural networks to segment 3D vessels within volumetric in vivo images acquired by multiphoton microscopy. We evaluated different network architectures and machine learning techniques in the context of this segmentation problem. We show that our optimized convolutional neural network architecture with a customized loss function, which we call DeepVess, yielded a segmentation accuracy that was better than state-of-the-art methods, while also being orders of magnitude faster than the manual annotation. To explore the effects of aging and Alzheimer’s disease on capillaries, we applied DeepVess to 3D images of cortical blood vessels in young and old mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease and wild type littermates. We found little difference in the distribution of capillary diameter or tortuosity between these groups, but did note a decrease in the number of longer capillary segments (>75μm) in aged animals as compared to young, in both wild type and Alzheimer’s disease mouse models.

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 Supplement 1

Endothelial cells promote 3D invasion of GBM by IL-8-dependent induction of cancer stem cell properties

Michael G. McCoy, Dennis Nyanyo, Carol K. Hung, Julian Palacios Goerger, Warren R. Zipfel, Rebecca M. Williams, Nozomi Nishimura & Claudia Fischbach

Scientific Reports (2019)

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Rapid growth and perivascular invasion are hallmarks of glioblastoma (GBM) that have been attributed to the presence of cancer stem-like cells (CSCs) and their association with the perivascular niche. However, the mechanisms by which the perivascular niche regulates GBM invasion and CSCs remain poorly understood due in part to a lack of relevant model systems. To simulate perivascular niche conditions and analyze consequential changes of GBM growth and invasion, patient-derived GBM spheroids were co-cultured with brain endothelial cells (ECs) in microfabricated collagen gels. Integrating these systems with 3D imaging and biochemical assays revealed that ECs increase GBM invasiveness and growth through interleukin-8 (IL-8)-mediated enrichment of CSCs. Blockade of IL-8 inhibited these effects in GBM-EC co-cultures, while IL-8 supplementation increased CSC-mediated growth and invasion in GBM-monocultures. Experiments in mice confirmed that ECs and IL-8 stimulate intracranial tumor growth and invasion in vivo. Collectively, perivascular niche conditions promote GBM growth and invasion by increasing CSC frequency, and IL-8 may be explored clinically to inhibit these interactions.

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Increasing cerebral blood flow improves cognition into late stages in Alzheimer’s disease mice

Oliver Bracko, Brendah N Njiru, Madisen Swallow, Muhammad Ali, Mohammad Haft-Javaherian, Chris B Schaffer

Journal of Cerebral Blood flow and Metabolism (2019)

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Alzheimer’s disease is associated with a 20–30% reduction in cerebral blood flow. In the APP/PS1 mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease, inhibiting neutrophil adhesion using an antibody against the neutrophil specific protein Ly6G was recently shown to drive rapid improvements in cerebral blood flow that was accompanied by an improvement in performance on short-term memory tasks. Here, in a longitudinal aging study, we assessed how far into disease development a single injection of anti-Ly6G treatment can acutely improve short-term memory function. We found that APP/PS1 mice as old as 15–16 months had improved performance on the object replacement and Y-maze tests of spatial and working short-term memory, measured at one day after anti-Ly6G treatment. APP/PS1 mice at 17–18 months of age or older did not show acute improvements in cognitive performance, although we did find that capillary stalls were still reduced and cerebral blood flow was still increased by 17% in 21–22-months-old APP/PS1 mice given anti-Ly6G antibody. These data add to the growing body of evidence suggesting that cerebral blood flow reductions are an important contributing factor to the cognitive dysfunction associated with neurodegenerative disease. Thus, interfering with neutrophil adhesion could be a new therapeutic approach for Alzheimer’s disease.

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