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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014, Article ID 401306, 14 pages
Review Article

The Emerging Use of In Vivo Optical Imaging in the Study of Neurodegenerative Diseases

1Molecular PathoBiology Unit, Public Health Agency of Canada, National Microbiology Laboratory, 1015 Arlington Street, Winnipeg, MB, Canada R3E 3R2
2Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba, 730 William Avenue, Winnipeg, MB, Canada R3E 0W3

Received 9 May 2014; Revised 25 June 2014; Accepted 26 June 2014; Published 23 July 2014

Academic Editor: Mahendra P. Singh

Copyright © 2014 Aileen P. Patterson et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The detection and subsequent quantification of photons emitted from living tissues, using highly sensitive charged-couple device (CCD) cameras, have enabled investigators to noninvasively examine the intricate dynamics of molecular reactions in wide assortment of experimental animals under basal and pathophysiological conditions. Nevertheless, extrapolation of this in vivo optical imaging technology to the study of the mammalian brain and related neurodegenerative conditions is still in its infancy. In this review, we introduce the reader to the emerging use of in vivo optical imaging in the study of neurodegenerative diseases. We highlight the current instrumentation that is available and reporter molecules (fluorescent and bioluminescent) that are commonly used. Moreover, we examine how in vivo optical imaging using transgenic reporter mice has provided new insights into Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Prion disease, and neuronal damage arising from excitotoxicity and inflammation. Furthermore, we also touch upon studies that have utilized these technologies for the development of therapeutic strategies for neurodegenerative conditions that afflict humans.