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1.  In Vivo Flow Mapping in Complex Vessel Networks by Single Image Correlation 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:7341.
We describe a novel method (FLICS, FLow Image Correlation Spectroscopy) to extract flow speeds in complex vessel networks from a single raster-scanned optical xy-image, acquired in vivo by confocal or two-photon excitation microscopy. Fluorescent flowing objects produce diagonal lines in the raster-scanned image superimposed to static morphological details. The flow velocity is obtained by computing the Cross Correlation Function (CCF) of the intensity fluctuations detected in pairs of columns of the image. The analytical expression of the CCF has been derived by applying scanning fluorescence correlation concepts to drifting optically resolved objects and the theoretical framework has been validated in systems of increasing complexity. The power of the technique is revealed by its application to the intricate murine hepatic microcirculatory system where blood flow speed has been mapped simultaneously in several capillaries from a single xy-image and followed in time at high spatial and temporal resolution.
PMCID: PMC4256590  PMID: 25475129
2.  The spatiotemporal organization of cerebellar network activity resolved by two-photon imaging of multiple single neurons 
In order to investigate the spatiotemporal organization of neuronal activity in local microcircuits, techniques allowing the simultaneous recording from multiple single neurons are required. To this end, we implemented an advanced spatial-light modulator two-photon microscope (SLM-2PM). A critical issue for cerebellar theory is the organization of granular layer activity in the cerebellum, which has been predicted by single-cell recordings and computational models. With SLM-2PM, calcium signals could be recorded from different network elements in acute cerebellar slices including granule cells (GrCs), Purkinje cells (PCs) and molecular layer interneurons. By combining WCRs with SLM-2PM, the spike/calcium relationship in GrCs and PCs could be extrapolated toward the detection of single spikes. The SLM-2PM technique made it possible to monitor activity of over tens to hundreds neurons simultaneously. GrC activity depended on the number of spikes in the input mossy fiber bursts. PC and molecular layer interneuron activity paralleled that in the underlying GrC population revealing the spread of activity through the cerebellar cortical network. Moreover, circuit activity was increased by the GABA-A receptor blocker, gabazine, and reduced by the AMPA and NMDA receptor blockers, NBQX and APV. The SLM-2PM analysis of spatiotemporal patterns lent experimental support to the time-window and center-surround organizing principles of the granular layer.
PMCID: PMC3995049  PMID: 24782707
two-photon microscopy; cerebellum; granule cells; Purkinje cells
3.  Modeling Leukocyte-Leukocyte Non-Contact Interactions in a Lymph Node 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76756.
The interaction among leukocytes is at the basis of the innate and adaptive immune-response and it is largely ascribed to direct cell-cell contacts. However, the exchange of a number of chemical stimuli (chemokines) allows also non-contact interaction during the immunological response. We want here to evaluate the extent of the effect of the non-contact interactions on the observed leukocyte-leukocyte kinematics and their interaction duration. To this aim we adopt a simplified mean field description inspired by the Keller-Segel chemotaxis model, of which we report an analytical solution suited for slowly varying sources of chemokines. Since our focus is on the non-contact interactions, leukocyte-leukocyte contact interactions are simulated only by means of a space dependent friction coefficient of the cells. The analytical solution of the Keller-Segel model is then taken as the basis of numerical simulations of interactions between leukocytes and their duration. The mean field interaction force that we derive has a time-space separable form and depends on the chemotaxis sensitivity parameter as well as on the chemokines diffusion coefficient and their degradation rate. All these parameters affect the distribution of the interaction durations. We draw a successful qualitative comparison between simulated data and sets of experimental data for DC-NK cells interaction duration and other kinematic parameters. Remarkably, the predicted percentage of the leukocyte-leukocyte interactions falls in the experimental range and depends (≅25% increase) upon the chemotactic parameter indicating a non-negligible direct effect of the non-contact interaction on the leukocyte interactions.
PMCID: PMC3810259  PMID: 24204669
4.  Biophysical Characterization of Met-G-CSF: Effects of Different Site-Specific Mono-Pegylations on Protein Stability and Aggregation 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42511.
The limited stability of proteins in vitro and in vivo reduces their conversion into effective biopharmaceuticals. To overcome this problem several strategies can be exploited, as the conjugation of the protein of interest with polyethylene glycol, in most cases, improves its stability and pharmacokinetics. In this work, we report a biophysical characterization of the non-pegylated and of two different site-specific mono-pegylated forms of recombinant human methionyl-granulocyte colony stimulating factor (Met-G-CSF), a protein used in chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation. In particular, we found that the two mono-pegylations of Met-G-CSF at the N-terminal methionine and at glutamine 135 increase the protein thermal stability, reduce the aggregation propensity, preventing also protein precipitation, as revealed by circular dichroism (CD), Fourier transform infrared (FTIR), intrinsic fluorescence spectroscopies and dynamic light scattering (DLS). Interestingly, the two pegylation strategies were found to drastically reduce the polydispersity of Met-G-CSF, when incubated under conditions favouring protein aggregation, as indicated by DLS measurements. Our in vitro results are in agreement with preclinical studies, underlining that preliminary biophysical analyses, performed in the early stages of the development of new biopharmaceutical variants, might offer a useful tool for the identification of protein variants with improved therapeutic values.
PMCID: PMC3414461  PMID: 22905140
5.  Accumulative Difference Image Protocol for Particle Tracking in Fluorescence Microscopy Tested in Mouse Lymphonodes 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(8):e12216.
The basic research in cell biology and in medical sciences makes large use of imaging tools mainly based on confocal fluorescence and, more recently, on non-linear excitation microscopy. Substantially the aim is the recognition of selected targets in the image and their tracking in time. We have developed a particle tracking algorithm optimized for low signal/noise images with a minimum set of requirements on the target size and with no a priori knowledge of the type of motion. The image segmentation, based on a combination of size sensitive filters, does not rely on edge detection and is tailored for targets acquired at low resolution as in most of the in-vivo studies. The particle tracking is performed by building, from a stack of Accumulative Difference Images, a single 2D image in which the motion of the whole set of the particles is coded in time by a color level. This algorithm, tested here on solid-lipid nanoparticles diffusing within cells and on lymphocytes diffusing in lymphonodes, appears to be particularly useful for the cellular and the in-vivo microscopy image processing in which few a priori assumption on the type, the extent and the variability of particle motions, can be done.
PMCID: PMC2923183  PMID: 20808918
6.  Two-photon fluorescence cross-correlation spectroscopy as a potential tool for high-throughput screening of DNA repair activity 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(19):e165.
Several lines of evidence indicate that differences in DNA repair capacity are an important source of variability in cancer risk. However, traditional assays for measurement of DNA repair activity in human samples are laborious and time-consuming. DNA glycosylases are the first step in base excision repair of a variety of modified DNA bases. Here, we describe the development of a new sensitive DNA glycosylase assay based on fluorescence cross-correlation spectroscopy (FCCS) with two-photon excitation. FCCS was applied to the measurement of uracil DNA glycosylase activity of human cell extracts and validated by comparison with standard gel electrophoresis assay. Our results indicate that FCCS can be adapted to efficient assays for DNA glycosylase activity in protein extracts from human cells. This method has a potential for the development of automated screening of large number of samples.
PMCID: PMC1266075  PMID: 16244220

Results 1-6 (6)