Monitoring Ca2+ elevations in individual astrocytes upon local release of amyloid beta in acute brain slices.
The pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is thought to involve acute neurotoxic effects exerted by oligomeric forms of amyloid-β 1-42 (Aβ). Application of Aβ oligomers in physiological concentrations have been shown to transiently elevate internal Ca2+ in cultured astroglia. While the cellular machinery involved has been extensively explored, to what degree this important signalling cascade occurs in organised brain tissue has remained unclear. Here we adapted two-photon excitation microscopy and calibrated time-resolved imaging (FLIM), coupled with patch-clamp electrophysiology, to monitor Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]) inside individual astrocytes and principal neurons in acute brain slices. Inside the slice tissue local micro-ejection of Aβ in sub-micromolar concentrations triggered prominent [Ca2+] elevations in an adjacent astrocyte translated as an approximately two-fold increase (averaged over ∼5min) in basal [Ca2+]. This elevation did not spread to neighbouring cells and appeared comparable in amplitude with commonly documented spontaneous [Ca2+] rises in astroglia. Principal nerve cells (pyramidal neurons) also showed Ca2+ sensitivity, albeit to a lesser degree. These observations shed light on the extent and dynamics of the acute physiological effects of Aβ on brain cells in situ, in the context of AD.