Research group of Dr. Kazuto Masamoto, University of Electro-Communications (UEC) in Tokyo, Japan

Research group of Dr. Kazuto Masamoto, University of Electro-Communications (UEC) in Tokyo, Japan

The Masamoto Lab and collaborators, from left to right: Kazuhiro Yoneya, 1 (Student), Haruka Nakayama, 1 (Graduate Student), Kosaku Tsujii, 1 (Graduate Student), Koichi Yoshihara, 2 (Student), Hiroshi Kawaguchi, 3 (Postdoc), Hiroyuki Takuwa, 3 (Postdoc) Centre: Dr. Kazuto Masamoto, 2 (1- Keio University, 2- UEC and 3- NIRS).

Dr. Kazuto Masamoto is an Assistant Professor in the Center for Science and Engineering at the University of Electro-Communications (UEC) in Tokyo, Japan. Dr. Masamoto’s research interests include cerebral microcirculation, oxygen transport and functional brain imaging.

Dr. Masamoto obtained his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Keio University, Japan, under the direction of Professor Kazuo Tanishita. In 2003, he joined Dr. Seong-Gi Kim's laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh, PA, as a Postdoctoral Research Associate, studying cutting-edge neuro-imaging techniques using MRI and intrinsic optical signals. In 2006, Dr. Masamoto was appointed as a Research Scientist in the Molecular Imaging Center at the National Institute of Radiological Sciences (NIRS), Japan and, in 2008, he moved to his current position at the UEC, Tokyo. Dr. Masamoto was last year awarded the Melvin H. Knisely Award from the International Society on Oxygen Transport to Tissue (ISOTT), which recognizes outstanding young investigators.

Research in the Masamoto laboratory focuses on the interactive communications between cerebral microcirculation and the central nervous system (CNS). Since brain function is extremely vulnerable to a lack of oxygen supply, the microcirculatory system in the brain has a special feature which is designed to coordinate the distribution of blood flow supply to meet a locally variable energy demand in response to neural activity. This well-controlled micro-vascular system consists of sensor, driver, and effector units, which are managed by a collaboration of brain cells that includes neurons, astrocytes, vascular smooth muscle cells and endothelial cells (the so-called neurovascular units). The neurovascular unit serves as the basis for modern brain imaging techniques such as functional MRI and near-infrared spectroscopy.

Using a variety of optical-based imaging tools, the Masamoto laboratory investigates the structural and functional plasticity of cerebral microcirculation and its impact on local neural function in normal and disease rodent models. Much of this work is done in collaboration with the research group of Dr. Iwao Kanno, Director of the Molecular Imaging Center at the NIRS, Japan. This research is fundamental to the understanding of how abnormal neurovascular connections can lead to various neurodegenerative disorders.

Dr. Masamoto says: “Using an in vivo two-photon microscopy system, we obtain 3D and 4D images of neural, metabolic and vascular activities and using Volocity we can reconstruct the spatiotemporal organization of cell positions and identify how they relate to micro-vascular networks. To capture detailed dynamic features, we use the measurements in Volocity to further quantify the network structure, including the volume, size, length, branching position, angle, and the number of connections. Volocity enables us to display a variety of 3D views with an incredibly fast response and user-friendly commands. This is crucial in our research to enable us to identify the full 3D network and to determine how connections change. We also appreciate the dedicated response and assistance of PerkinElmer's technical specialists in Japan”.

The movie shows in vivo 3D imaging of rat cerebral microvasculature. Images were acquired using a multi-photon microscope system while fluorescent quantum dots were intravenously injected. A distinct difference in the pattern of capillary connections to penetrating arteriole and venule was observed. The movie is courtesy of Koichi Yoshihara.

Dr. Masamoto’s research biography can be found at: http://www.ghrdp.uec.ac.jp/introduction/intro_masamoto.html (partly in Japanese).