This talk will provide an overview of Fourier Transform InfraRed (FTIR) chemical imaging as a powerful and versatile method for obtaining information about CNS tissues. By combining imaging and spectroscopy, a spatial distribution of chemical components in biological samples can be assessed. Differences in cell types and disease states can be discovered through spectroscopic fingerprinting. Statistical software tools (PCA, ANOVA, etc.) may be employed to automatically distinguish subgroups with high sensitivity and specificity. We have shown that certain protocols in tissue preparation and storage are critical for preservation of some chemically unstable biomarkers. With appropriate sample preparation, it is possible to study normal and diseased CNS material using only the biochemical signatures of naturally-occurring components in unstained, unfixed tissue.
In this presentation, the basis of FTIR spectrochemical imaging will be illustrated for mouse models of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and autopsy brain tissue of normal and AD cases, as well as a rat model of spinal cord injury and repair. Other interests in our research group include lymphocytes in Hodgkin’s Disease, development of scar tissue in wound healing, discovery of secondary metabolites in fungi and lichen, responses of sea ice algae to climate change, as well as the analysis of layered polymer coatings and blended polymers. The long term goal is to bring bench top FTIR spectrochemical imaging into mainstream practice by enabling characterization of the chemistry and biochemistry of systems at biologically relevant length and time scales.