In vivo optical activation of astrocytes as a potential therapeutic strategy for neurodegenerative diseases

Yuanxin Chen, James Mancuso, Zhen Zhao, Xuping Li, Zhong Xue, Stephen T. Wong

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


Neurovascular dysfunction in many neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease (AD), reduces blood flow to affected brain areas and causes neuronal dysfunction and loss. A new optical imaging technique is developed to activate astrocytes in live animal models in order to investigate the increase of local cerebral blood flow as a potential therapeutic strategy for AD. The technique uses fluorescent labeling of vasculature and astrocytes coupled with intravital 2-photon microscopy to visualize the astrocyte-vasculature interactions in live animals. Using femtosecond laser stimulation, calcium uncaging is applied to specifically target and activate astrocytes in vivo with high spatial and temporal resolutions. Intravital 2-photon microscopy imaging was employed to demonstrate that single endfoot optical activation around an arteriole induced a 25% increase in arteriole diameter, which in turn increased cerebral local blood flow in down-stream capillaries. This quantitative result indicates the potential of using optical activation of astrocytes in afflicted brain areas of neurodegeneration to restore normal neurovascular functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPhotonic Therapeutics and Diagnostics IX
StatePublished - May 30 2013
EventPhotonic Therapeutics and Diagnostics IX - San Francisco, CA, United States
Duration: Feb 2 2013Feb 7 2013


OtherPhotonic Therapeutics and Diagnostics IX
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco, CA


  • Astrocytes-vasculature
  • Calcium uncaging
  • Endfoot
  • Femtosecond laser
  • Intravital 2-photon microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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