Integrative in situ mapping of single-cell transcriptional states and tissue histopathology in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease

Nat Neurosci. 2023 Mar;26(3):430-446. doi: 10.1038/s41593-022-01251-x. Epub 2023 Feb 2.


Complex diseases are characterized by spatiotemporal cellular and molecular changes that may be difficult to comprehensively capture. However, understanding the spatiotemporal dynamics underlying pathology can shed light on disease mechanisms and progression. Here we introduce STARmap PLUS, a method that combines high-resolution spatial transcriptomics with protein detection in the same tissue section. As proof of principle, we analyze brain tissues of a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease at 8 and 13 months of age. Our approach provides a comprehensive cellular map of disease progression. It reveals a core-shell structure where disease-associated microglia (DAM) closely contact amyloid-β plaques, whereas disease-associated astrocyte-like (DAA-like) cells and oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) are enriched in the outer shells surrounding the plaque-DAM complex. Hyperphosphorylated tau emerges mainly in excitatory neurons in the CA1 region and correlates with the local enrichment of oligodendrocyte subtypes. The STARmap PLUS method bridges single-cell gene expression profiles with tissue histopathology at subcellular resolution, providing a tool to pinpoint the molecular and cellular changes underlying pathology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease* / genetics
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor
  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Astrocytes
  • Brain
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Plaque, Amyloid


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor