Recent research suggests that leukocyte transport across the blood–brain barrier into cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) may play a role in the development of neurodegenerative disorders. A team, led by Rong Fan from Yale University (CT, USA), has developed a technique to help detect the presence of leukocytes in CSF.
Monitoring pathophysiological changes in the brain could help to identify neurodegenerative diseases before their symptoms manifest, and lead to improved patient care. Due to the low abundance of leukocytes, conventional analysis techniques would require invasive procedures to collect large CSF volumes.
The researchers developed a biofunctionalized silicon nanowire array chip coated with a number of leukocyte-specific antibodies. The platform has the ability to capture specific leukocytes with high specificity, accuracy and efficiency, only requiring 50μL of CSF per assay, and the immune cells can then be counted using laser scanning cytometry.
When the technique was used to compare normal CSF samples with those of Alzheimer’s disease patients, the team found elevated white blood cell counts and significant alterations in the distribution of major leukocyte phenotypes in the latter.
The authors state, “Our technology represents a practical tool potentially for diagnosing and monitoring the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases by allowing an effective hematological analysis of CSF from patients.” The team will now endeavor to validate their results by collaborating with neurologists and neuropathologists to initiate a large-scale clinical study.
Source: Kwak M, Kim DJ, Lee MR et al. Nanowire array chips for molecular typing of rare trafficking leukocytes with application to neurodegenerative pathology. Nanoscale DOI:10.1039/c3nr06465d (Epub ahead of print) (2014).