X-ray diffraction from intact tau aggregates in human brain tissue

Eric C. Landahl, Olga Antipova, Angela Bongaarts, Raul Barrea, Robert Berry, Lester I. Binder, Thomas Irving, Joseph Orgel, Laurel Vana, Sarah E. Rice*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We describe an instrument to record X-ray diffraction patterns from diseased regions of human brain tissue by combining an in-line visible light fluorescence microscope with an X-ray diffraction microprobe. We use thiazine red fluorescence to specifically label and detect the filamentous tau protein pathology associated with Picks disease, as several laboratories have done previously. We demonstrate that thiazine red-enhanced regions within the tissue show periodic structure in X-ray diffraction, which is not observed in healthy tissue. One observed periodicity (4.2 Å) is characteristic of cross-beta sheet structure, consistent with previous results from powder diffraction studies performed on purified, dried tau protein.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-187
Number of pages4
JournalNuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2011


  • Alzheimers disease
  • Picks disease
  • Tau
  • X-ray diffraction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Instrumentation

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