With the financial assistance from two donors, we have established a neurodegenerative disease brain bank at the University of Calgary. At autopsy, tissues from anatomically specific regions are frozen in liquid nitrogen vapour and stored in small, bar-coded cryovials. Cases include patients with dementia, movement disorders, demyelinating diseases, and normal controls. We prepare additional FFPE blocks for diagnosis or banking. Sampling includes all major areas of cortex and most subcortical structures. All brains, including “normal” controls, are characterized with a basic set of stains and major classification schemata are used for Alzheimer and Lewy body diseases. These tissues are available to investigators with IRB-approved research on human tissues
Control tissue is important in the study of age-associated neurodegeneration. We preserve tissues from areas of brain that either are severely or minimally affected by neurodegeneration (e.g. in Alzheimer disease, Brodmann areas 9 and 17, respectively). In our “normal” aging cohort, which includes patients with no described neurodegenerative diseases, we find frequent evidence of low-stage Alzheimer or Lewy body related pathological changes. We also find relatively frequent small vessel disease, which in part relates to our preferential selection of patient’s who died suddenly.
In preliminary studies, we have examined amyloid plaque structure with confocal microscopy using beta-sheet sensitive dyes and have studied the distribution of different chaperones in normal brain.