Electrophysiology techniques are the gold standard in neuroscience for studying functionality of a single neuron to a complex neuronal network. However, electrophysiology techniques are not flawless, they are invasive nature, procedures are cumbersome to implement with limited capability of being used as a high-throughput recording system. Also, long term studies of neuronal functionality with aid of electrophysiology is not feasible. Non-invasive stimulation and detection of neuronal electrical activity has been a long standing goal in neuroscience. Introduction of optogenetics has ushered in the era of non-invasive optical stimulation of neurons, which is revolutionizing neuroscience research. Optical detection of neuronal activity that is comparable to electro-physiology is still elusive. A number of optical techniques have been reported recording of neuronal electrical activity but none is capable of reliably measuring action potential spikes that is comparable to electro-physiology. Optical detection of action potential with voltage sensitive fluorescent reporters are potential alternatives to electrophysiology techniques. The heavily rely on secondary reporters, which are often toxic in nature with background fluorescence, with slow response and low SNR making them far from ideal. The detection of one shot (without averaging)-single action potential in a true label-free way has been elusive so far. In this report, we demonstrate the optical detection of single neuronal spike in a cultured mammalian neuronal network without using any exogenous labels. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of label free optical detection of single action potentials in a mammalian neuronal network, which was achieved using a high-speed phase sensitive interferometer. We have carried out stimulation and inhibition of neuronal firing using Glutamate and Tetrodotoxin respectively to demonstrate the different outcome (stimulation and inhibition) revealed in optical signal. We hypothesize that the interrogating optical beam is modulated during neuronal firing by electro-motility driven membrane fluctuation in conjunction with electrical wave propagation in cellular system.
Subrata Batabyal, Sarmishtha Satpathy, Loan Bui, Young-Tae Kim, Samarendra K. Mohanty, and Digant P. Davé, "Label-free optical detection of action potential in mammalian neurons (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10052, Optogenetics and Optical Manipulation, 1005205 (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 28, 2017; Published: 19 April 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2257606.5371339440001.
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