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NeuroRx. 2006 Oct;3(4):489-96.

Two-photon imaging of synaptic plasticity and pathology in the living mouse brain.

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  • 1Northwestern University, 303 East Chicago Avenue, Ward Building 10-132, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.


Two-photon microscopy (TPM) has become an increasingly important tool for imaging the structure and function of brain cells in living animals. TPM imaging studies of neuronal structures over intervals ranging from seconds to years have begun to provide important insights into the structural plasticity of synapses and the modulating effects of experience in the intact brain. TPM has also started to reveal how neuronal connections are altered in animal models of neurodegeneration, acute brain injury, and cerebrovascular disease. Here, we review some of these studies with special emphasis on the degree of structural dynamism of postsynaptic dendritic spines in the adult mouse brain as well as synaptic pathology in mouse models of Alzheimer's disease and cerebral ischemia. We also discuss technical considerations that are critical for the acquisition and interpretation of data from TPM in vivo.

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