New method makes oxygen flows in the brain visible

New method makes oxygen flows in the brain visible
New method makes oxygen flows in the brain visible

About the episode

Using a new technique, researchers have managed to visualize oxygen transport through the brain. And this already has important implications for research into Alzheimer’s, among other things.

Oxygen is essential for a functioning brain, but during a heart attack or cerebral hemorrhage, that supply of oxygen can suddenly stop. We don’t yet know what exactly happens in the brain at such a moment.

It is therefore promising that researchers have now developed a bio-luminescent imaging technique that allows them to image the movement of oxygen through the brain of mice in real time.

The new method uses a variant of the luminous proteins in fireflies. These proteins are already used in cancer research, where they light up when they come into contact with another predetermined molecule.

Thanks to the technique, the researchers saw that small parts of the brain sometimes do not receive oxygen for minutes. This is caused by white blood cells that temporarily block the supply in thin vessels. The red blood cells with oxygen on board cannot pass for a while. Which causes a small part of the brain to be without oxygen for a while.

This was seen more often at rest than when the mice were active. It is now thought that these blockages increase as we get older. They are also linked to, for example, Alzheimer’s, long COVID and insufficient exercise.

The technique, which can easily be picked up by other labs, makes it possible to study the influence of diseases or lifestyle on these blockages. The hope is that a new way will be found to at least slow down disease processes.

Read more about the research here: New imaging method illuminates oxygen’s journey in the brain

The article is in Dutch

Tags: method oxygen flows brain visible


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