The analysis and investigation of human neuronal and brain tissue is crucial to our understanding how neurological diseases manifest, which tissues, cells and areas are affected and in which manner. These pathologies can then be compared to pathologies in cellular or animal disease models and further investigated and linked to disease pathways and processes on a genetic and molecular level.
To support this the Neuropathology lab can provide a wide range of services for tissue preparation and staining. We have a full range of histology equipment, including tissue processor, semi-automated microtome which can accommodate jumbo blocks, cryostat and automated Immunostainer.
The Department of Neuroscience in Sheffield hosts and administrates the Sheffield Brain Tissue Bank (SBTB) which holds more than 540 brains donated from diseased patients, a vital resource for our research. The SBTB consists of a local donor cohort of brain and spinal cord tissue from diseased patients with MND, PD and dementias, as well as the brain donor cohort of the MRC funded Cognitive Functions & Ageing Study (CFAS) for which Sheffield is the lead neuropathology centre. SBTB holds over 540 brains donated since 1993 which can be accessed by external collaborators.
With specialised equipment which consists of a modified microscope equipped with laser functionality it is possible to isolate individual cells or regions from a section of tissue. Nucleic acid or protein can be extracted from these isolates to be used in downstream analyses such as gene expression profiling experiments helping to uncover processes that are dysregulated in diseased samples compared to healthy tissue.
Images before and after excision of motor neurons
(dark blue) from a section of spinal cord.