Flavoprotein imaging in the cerebellar cortex in vivo: Cellular and metabolic basis and insights into cerebellar function

Wangcai Gao, Gang Chen, Timothy J Ebner

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Flavoprotein autofluorescence is an activity dependent intrinsic signal. Flavoproteins are involved in the electron transport chain and change their fluorescence according to the cellular redox state. We have been using flavoprotein autofluorescence in the cerebellum to examine properties of cerebellar circuits. Studies have also focused on understanding the cellular and metabolic origins of this intrinsic optical signal. Parallel fiber stimulation evokes a beamlike response intersected by bands of decreased fluorescence. The beam response is biphasic, with an early fluorescence increase (light phase) followed by a slower decrease (dark phase). We show this signal originates from flavoproteins as determined by its wavelength selectivity and sensitivity to blockers of the electron transport chain. Selectively blocking glutamate receptors abolished the on-beam light phase with the dark phase remaining intact. This demonstrates that the light phase is due to postsynaptic neuronal activation and suggests the dark phase is primarily due to glial activation. The bands of reduced fluorescence intersecting the beam are primarily neuronal in origin, mediated by GABAergic transmission, and due to the inhibitory action of molecular layer interneurons on Purkinje cells and the interneurons themselves. This parasagittally organized molecular layer inhibition differentially modulates the spatial pattern of cerebellar cortical activity. Flavoprotein imaging also reveals the functional architectures underlying the responses to inferior olive and peripheral whisker pad stimulation. Therefore, flavoprotein autofluorescence imaging is providing new insights into cerebellar cortical function and neurometabolic coupling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number71800B
JournalProgress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging - Proceedings of SPIE
StatePublished - 2009
EventPhotons and Neurons - San Jose, CA, United States
Duration: Jan 25 2009Jan 26 2009


  • autofluorescence, flavoprotein, imaging, cerebellum, neurometabolic coupling


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