It is well-established that ageing is a major risk factor for several neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s disease (PD) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Post-mortem studies have shown that the brains of cognitively healthy people contain histopathological lesions and anatomical changes. Their clinical relevance is yet unknown. Scientific evidence of structural brain network changes during development and aging is limited. We use cutting-edge technologies to provide a 3D morphometry map of the human brain.
In-situ 3T MRI scanning
We have developed the ‘Amsterdam postmortem protocol’ in order to perform high-field structural MRI imaging using the 3 Tesla Philips Achieva MRI scanner at the VUmc within 4-10 hours after death.
After the in situ 3T MR scanning, the autopsy is performed by a neuropathologist using a standardized protocols. Brain tissue samples of cortical, subcortical and brainstem regions are collected.
Ex vivo high-field 7T MRI scanning
The right hemisphere and brainstem are scanned using ultra-high-field strength MR imaging (7 Tesla) in LUMC, Leiden.
Extensive neuropathological assessment includes evaluation of lesions in cortical, subcortical and brainstem regions using immunohistochemistry, silver staining techniques and histological staining by experienced neuropathologist.
Stereology and Morphometry
After the 7T postmortem imaging, the fixed brain tissue is dissected and processed for histology and immunocytochemistry to determine the size, distribution and total number of neurons and glial cells, dendritic and axonal networks using stereology. In addition, we use automated microscopy MCID software and a spectral imager to provide a global analysis of histopathological lesions in the brain.