Welcome to Neurostructural Research Labs
NeuroStructural Research Labs was founded as a non-profit [501(c)(3)] contract research organization (CRO). We are dedicated to conducting morphometric neuroscience research of neuron dendritic structures and synapses as the basis of brain circuitry in order to promote the understanding, prevention, and treatment of human neurological diseases (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease), neuronal damage (e.g., traumatic brain injury), and neurodegeneration (as, for example, from exposure to environmental neurotoxins or due to neuroinflammation). Our studies also extend to issues relating to developmental disorders (e.g., autism, schizophrenia, mental retardation, viral infections during brain development). Finally, neuroplasticity may also be evaluated, as seen from the effects of environmental enrichment, dietary manipulations, and stress.
How Do We Evaluate These Changes in Neuronal Morphology?
We specialize in Golgi-impregnation staining and analysis of dendritic branching and dendritic spines of neurons using formalin fixed brain tissue that is sent to our lab.
The Golgi impregnation method permits microscopic visualization of the soma and entire dendritic arbor of randomly stained neurons in exquisite detail. Ninety-five percent of the volume of the typical neuron is in the dendritic branching. Therefore, measurement of the dendritic branching (length and complexity) is also an exquisitively sensitive means of ascertaining early neuronal damage and/or repair. In addition, dendritic spines represent the loci of the vast majority of excitatory input to neurons at the synapse. Changes in spine density and spine configurations can both influence the transfer of information. As such, assessment of dendritic branching and spines reflects both the health of the neurons and integrity of the circuitry in specific brain regions (e.g., cortex, hippocampus, cerebellum, etc.) These structures are essential to synaptic transfer of information, represent the anatomical basis of neuronal circuitry….and ultimately, of learning and memory.
Examples of our typical Golgi stained neurons are seen below:
How it Works and What We Do.
You only have to send us formalin-fixed brain tissue (blocks or hemispheres)…we do everything else:
- We stain the tissue, cut the blocks, and prepare coded slides
- We carry out highly morphometric analyses of dendritic branching (amount, length, distribution, and complexity)
- Our analyses of dendritic spines include: spine density and spine configurations
- Measurement of soma size
- All of our studies are adhere to the highest scientific standards. All studies use coded slides and are carried out blind. No codes are broken until all data has been generated and we are ready to run our statistical analyses.
The Scope of Our Studies
Our studies may include -- but are not limited to -- topics such as:
- Animal models of Alzheimer’s Disease and assessment of therapeutic strategies
- Evaluation of human autopsied brain tissue in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease
- Brain Aging
- Developmental Disorders (e.g., animal models of autism, schizophrenia, the effects of viruses on neuronal development and maturation)
- Traumatic Brain Injury and Stroke
- Neurostructural Correlates to Cognitive Impairment, Learning and Memory
- Stress and PTSD-related alterations in brain circuitry
- Dietary manipulation of dendritic branching and spines
- Evaluation of genetic manipulations (mutants, knockouts, transgenics) on phenotypic expression
- Environmental Enrichment or other manipulations that can influence Neuroplasticity.
- The Effects of Neuroinflammation