High resolution metabolite imaging in the hippocampus following neonatal exposure to the environmental toxin BMAA using ToF-SIMS

Jörg Hanrieder, Lorenz Gerber, Åsa Persson Sandelius, Eva B. Brittebo, Andrew G. Ewing, Oskar Karlsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The environmental neurotoxin β-N-methylamino-l-alanine (BMAA) is suggested to be linked with neurodegenerative disease. In a rat model, neonatal exposure to BMAA induced selective uptake in the hippocampus and caused cell loss, mineralization and astrogliosis as well as learning and memory impairments in adulthood. Moreover, neonatal exposure resulted in increased protein ubiquitination in the cornus ammonis 1 (CA1) region of the adult hippocampus indicating that BMAA may induce protein aggregation. Time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) based imaging is a powerful technology for spatial profiling of small molecular weight compounds in biological tissues with high chemical specificity and high spatial resolution. The aim of this study was to characterize neurochemical changes in the hippocampus of six month-old rats treated neonatally (postnatal days 9-10) with BMAA. Multivariate data analysis of whole section ToF-SIMS scans was performed to delineate anatomical regions of interest based on their chemical distribution pattern. Further analysis of spectral data obtained from the outlined anatomical regions, including CA1 and dentate gyrus (DG) revealed BMAA-induced long-term changes. Increased levels of phospholipids and protein fragments in the histopathologically altered CA1 region as well as phosphate depletion in the DG were observed. Moreover, high resolution SIMS imaging revealed a specific localization of phosphatidylcholine lipids, protein signals and potassium in the histopathologically altered CA1. These findings demonstrate that ToF-SIMS based imaging is a powerful approach for probing biochemical changes in situ and might serve as promising technique for investigating neurotoxin-induced brain pathology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)568-575
Number of pages8
JournalACS Chemical Neuroscience
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 16 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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