The NBB runs a brain donor program and people sign informed consent during life as brain donor.
When a NBB brain donor dies, the body is transported to VUmc where the brain autopsy takes place.
Tissue is dissected following a fresh dissection protocol and is fresh, frozen or fixed. For diagnosis 40
blocks are dissected and for researchers, depending on the diagnosis, 80- 200 tissue blocks per
brain. Because the donor is registered, NBB 24/7 on call and the Netherlands is a small country the
post mortem delays are ultra-short (6h). Clinical files, are summarized and translated in English and
for each donor an extensive neuropathological diagnosis is made. The final diagnosis is
communicated with the family physician. Researchers worldwide can apply for tissue and donor data
and the NBB has an online tissue D-base (e-NBB). All requests for material are evaluated by a tissue
advisory board (TAB) and material is disseminated under a Material transfer agreement (MTA). The
organization strives for optimal transparency of procedures and adheres to strict ethical guidelines
such as informed consent, open access and non-profit policy and fully adheres to Brain net Europe’s
Ethical Code of (www.brainnet-europe.org).1
The NBB recently launched together with AMC, VUmc, UMC Utrecht, Radboud UMC and Erasmus MC,
a special program for psychiatric diseases, financed by NWO-Groot, to register clinically well
phenotyped donors with schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorder, major depression, bipolar
disorder, ADHD, posttraumatic stress syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder: NBB-Psy
(www.nhb-psy.nl) from clinical cohorts, via long stay clinics and patient organizations and via
national campaigns. Within NBB-Psy, tissue is enriched and pure glial cell populations are isolated
and provided and iPSC’s are generated from skin fibroblasts.
The NBB performs systematically post mortem MRI form all MS autopsies to facilitate the dissections
of MS related pathologies, and, importantly, to map MRI scans histologically for translational
Since it start the NBB has performed 3900 autopsies (fig. 1A and the NBB has over 3200 registered
donors (fig. 1B).
The NBB has 7 staff members, 12 NBB-Psy project members and 12 NBB assistants for out of office
brain autopsies. At VUmc 4 pathologists and 4 autopsy assistants are on call for NBB.
Research questions that can be answered through NBB services:
1. Validate clinical diagnosis neuropathologically. Up to 30% of the clinical diagnoses are not
2. Is neurological variability related to neuropathological variability? Genetic, biomarker and
radiologic markers can identify these subtypes of disease in the living patient.
3. What are the cellular and molecular correlates of MRI and DTI parameters? This can by done
using post mortem MRI.
4. Are molecular and cellular patterns identified in animal models of brain diseases also present
in the human brain diseases? E.g. validate animal models of brain diseases in the human.
5. What are the cellular and molecular pathways causing neurological and psychiatric diseases/
Deep sequencing, epigenetic analyses, proteomics, lipidomics and metabolomics of welldefined
human brain tissue of high quality are needed to identify targets for therapy
6. What is the expression of genes in the human brain of genetically determined brain diseases?
1. Klioueva NM, Rademaker MC, Dexter DT, Al-Sarraj S, Seilhean D, Streichenberger N, Schmitz P, Bell JE, Ironside JW, Arzberger T,
Huitinga I. BrainNet Europe's Code of Conduct for brain banking. J Neural Transm. 2015 Jul;122(7):937-40.