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Journal of Biomedical Optics • Open Access

Combined optical tweezers and laser dissector for controlled ablation of functional connections in neural networks
Author(s): Francesco Difato; Marco Dal Maschio; Emanuele Marconi; Giuseppe Ronzitti; Alessandro Maccione; Tommasso Fellin; Luca Berdondini; Evelina Chieregatti; Fabio Benfenati; Axel Blau

Paper Abstract

Regeneration of functional connectivity within a neural network after different degrees of lesion is of utmost clinical importance. To test pharmacological approaches aimed at recovering from a total or partial damage of neuronal connections within a circuit, it is necessary to develop a precise method for controlled ablation of neuronal processes. We combined a UV laser microdissector to ablate neural processes in vitro at single neuron and neural network level with infrared holographic optical tweezers to carry out force spectroscopy measurements. Simultaneous force spectroscopy, down to the sub-pico-Newton range, was performed during laser dissection to quantify the tension release in a partially ablated neurite. Therefore, we could control and measure the damage inflicted to an individual neuronal process. To characterize the effect of the inflicted injury on network level, changes in activity of neural subpopulations were monitored with subcellular resolution and overall network activity with high temporal resolution by concurrent calcium imaging and microelectrode array recording. Neuronal connections have been sequentially ablated and the correlated changes in network activity traced and mapped. With this unique combination of electrophysiological and optical tools, neural activity can be studied and quantified in response to controlled injury at the subcellular, cellular, and network level.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 May 2011
PDF: 10 pages
J. Biomed. Opt. 16(5) 051306 doi: 10.1117/1.3560268
Published in: Journal of Biomedical Optics Volume 16, Issue 5
Show Author Affiliations
Francesco Difato, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (Italy)
Marco Dal Maschio, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (Italy)
Emanuele Marconi, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (Italy)
Giuseppe Ronzitti, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (Italy)
Alessandro Maccione, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (Italy)
Tommasso Fellin, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (Italy)
Luca Berdondini, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (Italy)
Evelina Chieregatti, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (Italy)
Fabio Benfenati, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (Italy)
Axel Blau, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (Italy)

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