Imaging brain cells in high definition

Through state of the art neurobiological and neural engineering techniques, the Integrative Biological Psychiatry laboratory is focused on identifying the underlying causes of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), with an emphasis on the contribution of inflammation and the glutamate signalling system within the brain.

Microglia, the brains immune cells, are increasingly thought to play a role in the underlying causes of ASD as well as schizophrenia. In addition, we now know that these cells have important roles in shaping connections within the brain during development.

Recently, in collaboration with Professor Stan Skafidas and Dr Babak Nasr we have utilised state of the art helium ion microscopy for the first time to image BV2 microglial cells.

Located within the CfNE, this unique microscope offers unprecedented imaging at a detail never seen before. An example of the images produced is shown below.

The image shows amazing detail on the surface of a microglial cell. Such detailed information will greatly aid the discovery of the structure and function of these key brain cells as well as their roles in disorders such as ASD.

Dr Gursharan Chana, leader of the Integrative Biological Psychiatry laboratory at the CfNE believes that the use of such revolutionary imaging technology will not only greatly increase our knowledge of these complex brain cells but also how they interact with other cells within the brain.

the surface of a  microglial cell

Image Courtesy of Emma Byers, honours student.

Integrative Biological Psychiatry Laboratory