news: using scintillating colloids in optogenetics

The Foulger group recently published an article in Frontiers in Synaptic Neuroscience that presented a general strategy for the use of radioluminescent particles (RPLs) in optogenetics. Optogenetics is widely used in neuroscience to control neural circuits. However, non-invasive methods for light delivery in brain are needed to avoid physical damage caused by current methods. One potential strategy could employ x-ray activation of radioluminescent particles (RPLs), enabling localized light generation within the brain. RPLs composed of inorganic scintillators can emit light at various wavelengths depending upon composition. Cerium doped lutetium oxyorthosilicate (LSO:Ce), an inorganic scintillator that emits blue light in response to x-ray or ultraviolet (UV) stimulation, could potentially be used to control neural circuits through activation of channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2), a light-gated cation channel. Whether inorganic scintillators themselves negatively impact neuronal processes and synaptic function is unknown, and was investigated here using cellular, molecular, and electrophysiological approaches. As proof of principle, we applied UV stimulation to 4 μm LSO:Ce particles during whole-cell recording of CA1 pyramidal cells in acute hippocampal slices from mice that expressed ChR2 in glutamatergic neurons. We observed an increase in frequency and amplitude of spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic currents (sEPSCs), indicating activation of ChR2 and excitation of neurons. Importantly, LSO:Ce particles did not affect survival of primary mouse cortical neurons, even after 24 h of exposure, and therefore, LSO:Ce inorganic scintillators are potentially viable for use as a new light delivery system for optogenetics. The article is located here .