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Neuroscience. 2006;138(4):1205-13. Epub 2006 Feb 7.

Quantitative analysis of amyloid plaques in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease by phase-contrast X-ray computed tomography.

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Neuroscience, Pharmacology Research Laboratories, Drug Discovery Research, Astellas Pharma Inc., 21, Miyukigaoka, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8585, Japan.


Densely aggregated beta-amyloid peptides are believed to play a key role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease. Amyloid plaques are a potential target for molecular imaging to determine the clinical status of Alzheimer's disease. Phase-contrast X-ray imaging combined with computed tomography is a promising technique that can be used to visualize the physical density of structures in biological tissues non-invasively, and without the use of imaging agents. Using brain tissue isolated from a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease, we show that beta-amyloid 40-positive/beta-amyloid 42-positive amyloid plaques, but not beta-amyloid 40-negative/beta-amyloid 42-positive amyloid plaques, exist as high-density aggregates that can be specifically detected by phase-contrast X-ray computed tomography. The phase-contrast X-ray computed tomography detected beta-amyloid 40-positive/beta-amyloid 42-positive amyloid plaques in three-dimensions with an extremely high sensitivity comparable to that of histological analysis, and also enabled the load of amyloid plaques to be quantified. Furthermore, the use of phase-contrast X-ray computed tomography reveals that the physical density of beta-amyloid 40-positive/beta-amyloid 42-positive amyloid plaques increases with age, and that the large volume, high-density, amyloid plaques that are specifically observed in aged Alzheimer's disease mice are closely associated with neuritic dystrophy. These results demonstrate that phase-contrast X-ray computed tomography is a highly sensitive imaging technique for analyzing dense-cored amyloid plaques in postmortem samples, and is beneficial in elucidating amyloid pathophysiology in Alzheimer's disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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