In histopathological practice, birefringence is used for the identification of amyloidosis in numerous tissues. Amyloid birefringence is caused by the parallel arrangement of fibrous protein aggregates. Since neurodegenerative processes in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are also linked to the formation of amyloid-beta (Aβ) plaques, optical methods sensitive to birefringence may act as non-invasive tools for Aβ identification. At last year’s Photonics West, we demonstrated polarization-sensitive optical coherence tomography (PS-OCT) imaging of ex vivo cerebral tissue of advanced stage AD patients. PS-OCT provides volumetric, structural imaging based on both backscatter contrast and tissue polarization properties. In this presentation, we report on polarization-sensitive neuroimaging along with numerical simulations of three-dimensional Aβ plaques. High speed PS-OCT imaging was performed using a spectral domain approach based on polarization maintaining fiber optics. The sample beam was interfaced to a confocal scanning microscope arrangement. Formalin-fixed tissue samples as well as thin histological sections were imaged. For comparison to the PS-OCT results, ray propagation through plaques was modeled using Jones analysis and various illumination geometries and plaque sizes. Characteristic polarization patterns were found. The results of this study may not only help to understand PS-OCT imaging of neuritic Aβ plaques but may also have implications for polarization-sensitive imaging of other fibrillary structures.
Bernhard Baumann, Adelheid Wöhrer, Gerda Ricken, Michael Pircher, Gabor G. Kovacs, and Christoph K. Hitzenberger, "Polarization properties of amyloid-beta plaques in Alzheimer's disease
(Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 9690, Clinical and Translational Neurophotonics; Neural Imaging and Sensing; and Optogenetics and Optical Manipulation, 96900M (Presented at SPIE BiOS: February 14, 2016; Published: 26 April 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2212841.4848636551001.
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