Developing Electron Microscopy Tools for Profiling Plasma Lipoproteins Using Methyl Cellulose Embedment, Machine Learning and Immunodetection of Apolipoprotein B and Apolipoprotein(a)

Yvonne Giesecke, Samuel Soete, Katarzyna MacKinnon, Thanasis Tsiaras, Madeline Ward, Mohammed Althobaiti, Tamas Suveges, James E. Lucocq, Stephen J. McKenna, John M. Lucocq (Lead / Corresponding author)

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Abstract

Plasma lipoproteins are important carriers of cholesterol and have been linked strongly to cardiovascular disease (CVD). Our study aimed to achieve fine-grained measurements of lipoprotein subpopulations such as low-density lipoprotein (LDL), lipoprotein(a) (Lp(a), or remnant lipoproteins (RLP) using electron microscopy combined with machine learning tools from microliter samples of human plasma. In the reported method, lipoproteins were absorbed onto electron microscopy (EM) support films from diluted plasma and embedded in thin films of methyl cellulose (MC) containing mixed metal stains, providing intense edge contrast. The results show that LPs have a continuous frequency distribution of sizes, extending from LDL (> 15 nm) to intermediate density lipoprotein (IDL) and very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL). Furthermore, mixed metal staining produces striking “positive” contrast of specific antibodies attached to lipoproteins providing quantitative data on apolipoprotein(a)-positive Lp(a) or apolipoprotein B (ApoB)-positive particles. To enable automatic particle characterization, we also demonstrated efficient segmentation of lipoprotein particles using deep learning software characterized by a Mask Regionbased Convolutional Neural Networks (R-CNN) architecture with transfer learning. In future, EM and machine learning could be combined with microarray deposition and automated imaging for higher throughput quantitation of lipoproteins associated with CVD risk.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6373
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Volume21
Issue number17
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sep 2020

Keywords

  • lipoproteins
  • nanoparticles
  • low-density
  • apolipoprotein B
  • apolipoprotein(a)
  • electron microscopy
  • cardiovascular disease
  • machine learning
  • Apolipoprotein(a)
  • Low-density lipoproteins
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Electron microscopy
  • Apolipoprotein B
  • Nanoparticles
  • Lipoproteins
  • Machine learning

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