A Multimodal Spectroscopic Imaging Method To Characterize the Metal and Macromolecular Content of Proteinaceous Aggregates ("Amyloid Plaques").
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Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a major international health and economic concern. A key pathological feature of AD is so-called "amyloid-ß-plaques", or "Aß-plaques", which are deposits of aggregated protein, enriched with the Aß fragment of amyloid precursor protein. Despite their name, the deposits are not pure Aß and have a heterogeneous, chemically complex composition that can include multiple proteins, lipids, and metal ions (Fe, Cu, or Zn). Despite extensive research, it is still uncertain whether Aß-plaques are a cause or a consequence of AD pathology. Further characterization of the elemental and biochemical composition within and surrounding Aß-plaques, and knowledge of how composition varies with disease state or progression, may provide important insight into the relationship between Aß-plaques and AD pathology. With this aim in mind, herein we demonstrate a multimodal spectroscopic imaging workflow to better characterize the complex composition of Aß-plaques. Our approach incorporates several spectroscopic imaging techniques, such as Fourier transform infrared spectroscopic imaging (FTIR), Raman microscopy, and X-ray fluorescence microscopy (XFM). While FTIR, Raman, and XFM have been used previously, mostly in isolation, to study Aß-plaques, application of all three techniques, in combination with histology and fluorescence microscopy, has not been reported previously. We demonstrate that a multimodal workflow, incorporating all three methods on adjacent or serial tissue sections, can reveal substantial complementary information about the biochemical and elemental composition of Aß-plaques. Information revealed by the method includes the relative content and distribution of aggregated protein, total lipid, lipid esters, cholesterol, and metals (Fe, Cu, or Zn).
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