2D polarization imaging as a low-cost fluorescence method to detect α-synuclein aggregation ex vivo in models of Parkinson’s disease

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A hallmark of Parkinson’s disease is the formation of large protein-rich aggregates in neurons, where α-synuclein is the most abundant protein. A standard approach to visualize aggregation is to fluorescently label the proteins of interest. Then, highly fluorescent regions are assumed to contain aggregated proteins. However, fluorescence brightness alone cannot discriminate micrometer-sized regions with high expression of non-aggregated proteins from regions where the proteins are aggregated on the molecular scale. Here, we demonstrate that 2-dimensional polarization imaging can discriminate between preformed non-aggregated and aggregated forms of α-synuclein, and detect increased aggregation in brain tissues of transgenic mice. This imaging method assesses homo-FRET between labels by measuring fluorescence polarization in excitation and emission simultaneously, which translates into higher contrast than fluorescence anisotropy imaging. Exploring earlier aggregation states of α-synuclein using such technically simple imaging method could lead to crucial improvements in our understanding of α-synuclein-mediated pathology in Parkinson’s Disease.


External organisations
  • Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology (IPHT)
  • China Medical University, Shenyang
  • François Jacob Institute of biology
  • Friedrich Schiller University Jena
  • Lund University
  • Catholic University of Leuven
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biophysics
  • Medical Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Laboratory Medicine
Original languageEnglish
Article number157
JournalCommunications Biology
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Publication categoryResearch