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Exploring the interactions between peptides and lipid bilayers using Coherent Anti-Stokes Raman scattering and Two-Photon Fluorescence

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We have used a versatile and powerful microscope[1] for multi-modal biomedical imaging on which we combine Coherent Anti-Stokes Raman Scattering (CARS) with Two Photon Excitation Fluorescence (TPEF) using a Nd: YVO4 pump laser. We acquired 2PEF, CARS, and phase contrast images of Multilamellar Vesicles (MLVs) and Giant Unilamellar Vesicles (GUVs), as well as Raman spectra of the constituent lipids.

A wide range of peptides are harmful to cells by altering the structure of the biological membranes. This effect depends on the composition of the membrane and the chemical structure of the peptide.

The peptide we studied is the beta amyloid Aβ which is a major component of the amyloid plaques deposited on neuronal membranes of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients. AD is neurodegenerative disorder in which the hallmark symptoms include cognitive decline and dementia[2] and is characterized by the formation of extracellular amyloid fibrils on the neuronal membranes of the brain. Many questions still remain unanswered concerning the destabilization of cellular ionic homeostasis due to pores formed during the interactions of lipid membranes with peptides.

In this project, biomimics of cell membranes are used. The structures that best mimic the plasma membranes are MLVs or GUVs. These vesicles are formed using the gentle hydration technique[3] or the electroformation technique[4] respectively and are composed of phospholipids such as DOPC, DPPC, D62PPC and their binary mixtures.

The MLVs and GUVs imaging by CARS and TPEF microscopy not only permits the direct imaging of the leakage phenomenon caused by the toxic peptide (Aβ) on the lipid bilayer, but also records simultaneously the lateral structure of the bilayer and peptide distribution in the plane across the membrane.

© 2011 OSA/SPIE

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