The abnormal deposition of fibrillar beta-amyloid (Aβ) deposits in the brain is one of the major histopathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Here, we characterized curcumin-derivative CRANAD-2 for multi-spectral optoacoustic tomography and fluorescence imaging of brain Aβ deposits in the arcAβ mouse model of AD cerebral amyloidosis. CRANAD-2 showed a specific and quantitative detection of Aβ fibrils in vitro, even in complex mixtures, and it is capable of distinguishing between monomeric and fibrillar forms of Aβ. In vivo epi-fluorescence microscopy and optoacoustic tomography after intravenous CRANAD-2 administration demonstrated higher cortical retention in arcAβ compared to non-transgenic littermate mice. Immunohistochemistry showed co-localization of CRANAD-2 and Aβ deposits in arcAβ mouse brain sections, thus verifying the specificity of the probe. In conclusion, we demonstrate suitability of CRANAD-2 for optical detection of Aβ deposits in animal models of AD pathology, which facilitates mechanistic studies and the monitoring of putative treatments targeting Aβ deposits.

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