Atomic force microscopy system can image nanoscale dynamics of neurons

March 16, 2015
Using atomic force microscopy (AFM), a team of researchers imaged the structural dynamics of living neurons with unprecedented spatial resolution.

Using atomic force microscopy (AFM), which incorporates a laser, researchers at the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (Jupiter, FL) and Kanazawa University (Japan) have succeeded in imaging the structural dynamics of living neurons with unprecedented spatial resolution.

While progress has been made over the past decades in the pursuit to optimize AFM for imaging living cells, there were still a number of limitations and technological issues that needed to be addressed before fundamental questions in cell biology could be addressed in living cells.

Drs. Ryohei Yasuda and Mikihiro Shibata of Max Planck, in collaboration with Kanazawa University, built a new AFM system optimized for live-cell imaging. The system differs in many ways from conventional AFM, as it uses an extremely long and sharp needle attached to a highly flexible plate. The system is also optimized for fast scanning to capture dynamic cellular events. These modifications have enabled researchers to image living cells, such as mammalian cell lines or mature hippocampal neurons, without any sign of cellular damage.

In particular, this study demonstrates the capability to track structural dynamics and remodeling of the cell surface, such as morphogenesis of filopodia, membrane ruffles, pit formation or endocytosis, in response to environmental stimulants.

According to Yasuda, the successful observations of structural dynamics in live neurons present the possibility of visualizing the morphology of synapses at nanometer resolution in real time in the near future. Since morphology changes of synapses underlie synaptic plasticity and our learning and memory, this will provide us with many new insights into mechanisms of how neurons store information in their morphology, how it changes synaptic strength and ultimately how it creates new memory.

Full details of the work appear in the journal Scientific Reports; for more information, please visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep08724.

-----

Follow us on Twitter, 'like' us on Facebook, connect with us on Google+, and join our group on LinkedIn

About the Author

BioOptics World Editors

We edited the content of this article, which was contributed by outside sources, to fit our style and substance requirements. (Editor’s Note: BioOptics World has folded as a brand and is now part of Laser Focus World, effective in 2022.)

Sponsored Recommendations

Optical Power Meters for Diverse Applications

April 30, 2024
Bench-top single channel to multichannel power meters, Santec has the power measurement platforms to meet your requirements.

Request a quote: Micro 3D Printed Part or microArch micro-precision 3D printers

April 11, 2024
See the results for yourself! We'll print a benchmark part so that you can assess our quality. Just send us your file and we'll get to work.

Request a Micro 3D Printed Benchmark Part: Send us your file.

April 11, 2024
See the results for yourself! We'll print a benchmark part so that you can assess our quality. Just send us your file and we'll get to work.

Request a free Micro 3D Printed sample part

April 11, 2024
The best way to understand the part quality we can achieve is by seeing it first-hand. Request a free 3D printed high-precision sample part.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Laser Focus World, create an account today!