Single-molecule imaging of individual amyloid protein aggregates in human biofluids


The misfolding and aggregation of proteins into amyloid fibrils characterizes many neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. We report here a method, termed SAVE (single aggregate visualization by enhancement) imaging, for the ultrasensitive detection of individual amyloid fibrils and oligomers using single-molecule fluorescence microscopy. We demonstrate that this method is able to detect the presence of amyloid aggregates of α-synuclein, tau, and amyloid-β. In addition, we show that aggregates can also be identified in human cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Significantly, we see a twofold increase in the average aggregate concentration in CSF from Parkinson's disease patients compared to age-matched controls. Taken together, we conclude that this method provides an opportunity to characterize the structural nature of amyloid aggregates in a key biofluid, and therefore has the potential to study disease progression in both animal models and humans to enhance our understanding of neurodegenerative disorders.

Journal details

Volume 7
Issue number 3
Pages 399-406
Available online
Publication date