The goal of this project is to investigate the degree of atrophy in dendrites of neurons from patients of Alzheimer's disease. The degree of atrophy is measured in terms of two quantities that directly relate to the functionality of neurons in the brain. Namely, the curvature and the widths of the dendrites are used to asses functional properties.

Both of these characteristics, width and curvature, are measured along the length of dendrites. The dendrites are classified in different categories, ranging from dendrites that appear anatomically intact to those that traverse through plaques and/or contain intracellular tau protein.

The data is obtained using digital pictures taken using a confocal microscope. The pictures are from Alzheimer's tissue samples that have been triple-labeled (immunostained) for functional dendrites, intracellular tau protein, and amyloid beta.

The pictures are analyzed using a graphical interactive program that allows for the pictures to be loaded, viewed, and marked when tracing individual dendrites for their curvature and width determination.

In the following picture, a view of the interactive program is presented where the main window with the triple-labeled picture is displayed along with the (hidden) data window and the controls window (small frame). The colors represent the amyloid (green), healthy dendrites (blue), and tau protein (red).

The program allows for the display of each individual channel or combinations of each channel in order to visually trace the relationships between the components. In the following picture the healthy dendrites (blue) and the tau protein (red) are given the same intensity with the amyloid (green) shadowing in the back.

In the following the tau protein is presented with the amyloid and healthy dendrites on the background,

the amyloid,

and healthy dendrites.

The three channels at equal intensity show how well localized each component is and also the co-localization that they have between each other.