Cell & Bioscience
The interwoven fibril-like structure of amyloid-beta plaques in mouse brain tissue visualized using super-resolution STED microscopy
Björn Johansson, Sho Oasa, Aida Muntsant Soria, Ann Tiiman, Linda Söderberg, Ebba Amandius, Christer Möller, Lars Lannfelt, Lars Terenius, Lydia Giménez‑Llort, Vladana Vukojević
Alzheimer’s, amyloid plaques
Standard neuropathologic analysis of Alzheimer’s brain relies on traditional fluorescence microscopy, which suffers from limited spatial resolution due to light diffraction. As a result, it fails to reveal intricate details of amyloid plaques. While electron microscopy (EM) offers higher resolution, its extensive sample preparation, involving fixation, dehydration, embedding, and sectioning, can introduce artifacts and distortions in the complex brain tissue. Moreover, EM lacks molecular specificity and has limited field of view and imaging depth.
In our study, we employed super-resolution Stimulated Emission Depletion (STED) microscopy in conjunction with the anti-human APP recombinant antibody 1C3 fluorescently labelled with DyLightTM633 (1C3-DyLight633). This combination allowed us to visualize amyloidogenic aggregates in vitro and in brain sections from a 17-month-old 3×Tg-AD mouse with sub-diffraction limited spatial resolution. Remarkably, we achieved a spatial resolution of 29 nm in vitro and 62 nm in brain tissue sections, surpassing the capabilities of conventional confocal microscopy by 5–10 times. Consequently, we could discern individual fibrils within plaques, an achievement previously only possible with EM.
The utilization of STED microscopy represents a groundbreaking advancement in the field, enabling researchers to delve into the characterization of local mechanisms that underlie Amyloid (Aβ) deposition into plaques and their subsequent clearance. This unprecedented level of detail is especially crucial for comprehending the etiology of Alzheimer’s disease and developing the next generation of anti-amyloid treatments. By facilitating the evaluation of drug candidates and non-pharmacological interventions aiming to reduce amyloid burden, STED microscopy emerges as an indispensable tool for driving scientific progress in Alzheimer’s research.