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SciShots: Clusters of Alzheimer’s cells

New data explores the cellular landscape of Alzheimer’s disease


1 min read

Clusters of different kinds of brain cells represented in many colorful dotsA newly released dataset of 1.2M cells from 84 brain donors across the spectrum of Alzheimer’s shines a light on the neurodegenerative disease’s cellular roots. Produced by the Seattle Alzheimer’s Disease Brain Cell Atlas consortium, an NIA-funded collaboration of Seattle-area scientists headquartered at the Allen Institute, the data capture several different aspects of the cellular and molecular underpinnings of this disease. The image above from the Allen Institute team shows brain cells from all 84 donors clustered and colored by the type of cell (left) or by the level of Alzheimer’s-related proteins present (right, yellow is high and blue is low). The scientists used genes switched on in individual brain cells to categorize them into discrete types, methods first used to understand the basic cellular building blocks of a healthy brain and which are now being applied to study disease at a new level of resolution. Rachel Tompa, Ph.D.

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About the author: Rachel Tompa

Rachel Tompa is a science and health writer and editor. A former molecular biologist, she’s been telling science stories since 2007 and has covered the gamut of science topics, including the microbiome, the human brain, pregnancy, evolution, science policy and infectious disease. During her tenure as Senior Editor at the Allen Institute, Rachel wrote stories and created podcast episodes covering all the Institute’s scientific divisions.

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