From niche methods to necessary tools: The growing importance of analytical atomic spectrometry in metal imaging in neuroscience

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Spectrochimica Acta - Part B Atomic Spectroscopy, 2019, 156 pp. 20 - 32
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© 2019 Visualizing the highly compartmentalized distribution of metals in the brain has grown from a handful of analytical method development laboratories to now being an integral part of contemporary neuroscience and medical research. The burgeoning interest in mapping metals in the brain has been spurred on by an increasing appreciation of the role minor and trace elements play in normal neural function, ageing, neuroinflammation, and as a potential causative factor in a range of neurological disorders. Advances in technology, development of versatile imaging protocols, and an array of data analysis resources have all contributed to the current status of quantitative metal imaging as an invaluable, and often envied tool in the modern neuroscience laboratory. Atomic mass spectrometry and emission spectroscopy methods cover a broad range of applications that span macro, micro, and nanoscale imaging. Most importantly, increasing awareness of the capabilities of metal imaging has gradually captured the attention of neuroscientists, resulting in a shift in focus from traditional method development and optimization to use as a routine analytical technique in broader studies of brain function and disease. We reflect on the history and growth of metal imaging within the neurosciences, discuss how it has contributed to recent advances in our understanding of the brain and neurological disorders, appraise the challenges and limitations that remain unaddressed, and speculate on the future roles metal imaging will have in neuroscience research over the next decade.
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