Lab-on-a-brain miniaturized laboratory on a mouse’s head
53-day observation of synaptic structures in vivo
Graduate School of Medicine / Faculty of Medicine
Graduate School of Engineering / Faculty of Engineering
A research group at the University of Tokyo, including Associate Professor Takanori Ichiki, Department of Bioengineering, Graduate School of Engineering and Professor Haruo Kasai, Center for Disease Biology and Integrative Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, has developed “Lab-on-a-brain”, an implantable micro-optical fluidic devices for neural cell analysis in vivo, and succeeded in the 53-day long-term and high-resolution observation of the fine structures of neurons by two-photon laser scanning microscopy.
The analysis of neurons in the brain of a living animal is important for understanding brain functions and diseases. However, careless experimental technique during operations such as direct drug injection into the brain can lead to degradation of the native functions of neural cells. To solve these problems, the research group developed a novel experimental platform, where the intact brain of a living mouse can be studied with the aid of a surgically implanted micro-optical fluidic device acting as an interface between neurons and the outer world.
The device comprises a glass window for observation and a reagent channel as thin as a hair. Using this device, the research group succeeded in long-term tracking of the same dendritic spines by two-photon laser scanning microscopy over a period of more than a month. Moreover, using the new device, the research group introduced a photodissociable reagent into the brain then used the laser to repeatedly cause the reagent to dissociate and activate, stimulating synapse plasticity. By applying such stimulations, the group was able to induce shape change, an indicator of synapse strength, of an arbitrarily chosen dendritic spine and observe the shrinkage over subsequent days.
The present technology is expected to contribute to the advancement of neuroscience and neurological medicine by clarifying higher brain functions such as memory and learning and dysfunctions and diseases of the brain such as schizophrenia and manic depression.
Hiroaki Takehara, Akira Nagaoka, Jun Noguchi, Takanori Akagi, Haruo Kasai and Takanori Ichiki,
“Lab-on-a-brain: Implantable micro-optical fluidic devices for neural cell analysis in vivo”,
Scientific Reports Online Edition: 2014/10/22 (Japan time), doi: 10.1038/srep06721.