Issue 8, 2012

Metal imaging in neurodegenerative diseases


Metal ions are known to play an important role in many neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and prion diseases. In these diseases, aberrant metal binding or improper regulation of redox active metal ions can induce oxidative stress by producing cytotoxic reactive oxygen species (ROS). Altered metal homeostasis is also frequently seen in the diseased state. As a result, the imaging of metals in intact biological cells and tissues has been very important for understanding the role of metals in neurodegenerative diseases. A wide range of imaging techniques have been utilized, including X-ray fluorescence microscopy (XFM), particle induced X-ray emission (PIXE), energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS), laser ablation inductively coupled mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS), and secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS), all of which allow for the imaging of metals in biological specimens with high spatial resolution and detection sensitivity. These techniques represent unique tools for advancing the understanding of the disease mechanisms and for identifying possible targets for developing treatments. In this review, we will highlight the advances in neurodegenerative disease research facilitated by metal imaging techniques.

Graphical abstract: Metal imaging in neurodegenerative diseases

Article information

Article type
Critical Review
08 Mar 2012
28 May 2012
First published
30 May 2012

Metallomics, 2012,4, 721-738