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Three-dimensional X-ray image spotlights neurodegenerative disease

What changes occur in parts of the brain affected by neurodegenerative disease? How does the structure of the neurons change? Some pathological changes in the tissue are easy to identify using standard microscopy. For example, the protein deposits known as “plaques,” which occur in Alzheimer’s disease, can be seen with staining techniques. However, pathological changes can also be of a more subtle nature and easily missed unless there is a complete digitilisation and analysis of the three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the University of Göttingen and University Medical Center Göttingen have now found a new technique to measure and quantify neuronal tissue architecture in three dimensions and at high resolution, which enabled them to identify changes in neurons in Alzheimer’s. The results were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).