Pr. Alberto A. Rasia-Filho

Federal University of Health Sciences/Physiology, Brazil  


Talk Title
Imaging the structure, diversity and complexity of nerve cells in the human brain
Talk Abstract
The visualization of nerve cells is crucially important for the advancement of neuroscience research and the comprehension of the foundations of the functioning of the human brain. Different approaches were developed to unravel detailed morphological features of neurons along the last decades. At the cellular level, dendritic spines are the smallest multifunctional units that reflect cellular connectivity and can modulate synaptic processing and plasticity. The study of human dendritic spines has been a challenge due to all the inherent technical and difficulties imposed by the complexity of the nervous tissue in our species. A novel three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction procedure was introduced for the visualization of dendritic spines in human postmortem brain tissue using brightfield light microscopy. The procedure uses an adapted histological improvement for the Golgi method, which provides a silver staining that darkens the neurons, contrasting them with the clear tissue background, to obtain suitable results using human brains conventionally fixed in formalin even for a long time. It requires minimal laboratory equipment and provides high-quality images and precise morphological data comparable to other more expensive techniques. Structure, diversity, and complexity of dendritic spines can be evaluated at different angles with details of their components (heads and necks). These images allow the dendritic spines to be identified and classified, either isolated or in clusters, in a continuum of shapes and sizes, from simple to more elaborated forms, including the presence of tiny spinules. Furthermore, the unlike density and shapes of spines along dendritic branches, from proximal to distal ones, indicate that synaptic processing and plasticity can be different in each neuron. Examples are provided for the multipolar neurons from the subcortical nuclei of the amygdaloid complex, the allocortical hippocampal CA3 area, and the neocortical temporal lobe in the adult human brain. This approach and its relevant results have broad phylogenetic, ontogenetic, morphological, and functional implications for the integrated human brain function. It can also unite different areas of knowledge and emerging technology that use this kind of biological data as support, from theoretical simulations to medicine. The identification of multiple forms of dendritic spines in different neurons can reflect both a more complex synaptic processing of sensory and emotional information and an adaptation for species-specific behavior display with applications in normal controls and pathological studies.
Short Biography
Alberto A. Rasia-Filho is Professor of Human Physiology at the Federal University of Health Sciences of Porto Alegre (Brazil) and Professor of Neuroscience at the Graduate Program of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil). He holds an academic degree in Medicine, and M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Biological Sciences/Physiology from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil). Postdoctoral fellow in synaptic structure at the School of Medicine/University of São Paulo (FMRP-USP, Brazil). Researcher granted by the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development. Prized by the Brazilian National Academy of Medicine (Neurology and related areas). Member of the International Brain Research Organization and international ad hoc reviewer. Guest Associate Editor for Systems Biology (Frontiers in Neuroscience and Frontiers in Psychiatry) and Synaptic Neuroscience. Editor of Research Topics in “Dynamics and Modulation of Synaptic Transmission in the Mammalian Central Nervous System” and “Frontiers in Synaptic Plasticity: Dendritic Spines, Circuitries and Behavior”.

His research interests include human neuroanatomy, morphology and function of neuron and glia cells, dendritic spines (morphology and morphometry), novel approaches for the Golgi method (adapted for the human brain), novel approaches for the 3D image reconstruction of human neurons, confocal microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, sexual dimorphism and neural gonadal steroid actions, neural network and social behaviour display.

Talk Keywords
Neuronal morphology, dendritic spines, spine morphology, 3D reconstruction, microscopic images, human brain, synaptic processing, synaptic plasticity.
Target Audience
Students, Post doctoral, Industry, Doctors and professors
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