Nano-Infrared Imaging of Primary Neurons

R. O. Freitas, A. Cernescu, A. Engdahl, A. Paulus, J. E. Levandoski, I. Martinsson, E. Hebisch, C. Sandt, G. K. Gouras, C. N. Prinz, T. Deierborg, F. Borondics and O. Klementieva

Cells 10, 2559 (2021)
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) accounts for about 70% of neurodegenerative diseases and is a cause of cognitive decline and death for one-third of seniors. AD is currently underdiagnosed, and it cannot be effectively prevented. Aggregation of amyloid-β (Aβ) proteins has been linked to the development of AD, and it has been established that, under pathological conditions, Aβ proteins undergo structural changes to form β-sheet structures that are considered neurotoxic. Numerous intensive in vitro studies have provided detailed information about amyloid polymorphs; however, little is known on how amyloid β-sheet-enriched aggregates can cause neurotoxicity in relevant settings. We used scattering-type scanning near-field optical microscopy (s-SNOM) to study amyloid structures at the nanoscale, in individual neurons. Specifically, we show that in well-validated systems, s-SNOM can detect amyloid β-sheet structures with nanometer spatial resolution in individual neurons. This is a proof-of-concept study to demonstrate that s-SNOM can be used to detect Aβ-sheet structures on cell surfaces at the nanoscale. Furthermore, this study is intended to raise neurobiologists’ awareness of the potential of s-SNOM as a tool for analyzing amyloid β-sheet structures at the nanoscale in neurons without the need for immunolabeling.