Editors' ChoiceNeuroscience

Tracking extracellular space in the brain

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Science  23 Dec 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6319, pp. 1547-1548
DOI: 10.1126/science.354.6319.1547-b

Extracellular space takes up a large percentage of the brain. Its size changes with the sleep-wake cycle but also during brain development and normal aging, as well as under pathological conditions such as neurodegeneration. Godin et al. injected near-infrared luminescent carbon nanotubes into rat brains and tracked their diffusion in the extracellular space. This method revealed the dimensions of the extracellular space in live brain tissue. The extracellular space turned out to be a maze of interconnected compartments of multiple shapes that are structured in a wide range of different dimensions. This novel technique thus allows neuroscientists to observe fine structures of the extracellular space and provides insights into the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain.

Nat. Nanotech. 10.1038/NNANO.2016.248 (2016).

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