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Co-Cultures of Neurons and Astrocytes: Alterations to Morphology and Cell-Type Distribution

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Technical Report,01 Nov 2017,31 Aug 2019

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CCDC Army Research Laboratory Aberdeen Proving Ground United States

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The brain is possibly the most complicated organ in the body, making understanding its function in normal or pathological states difficult. In vitro models using brain cells reduce some complexity and offer a high degree of experimental control compared with in vivo experiments. Many in vitro models include only neurons in culture, but neurons are surrounded by glial cells in the brain. Including other cell types in co-culture can dramatically change the response of those cells and is more representative of in vivo conditions but increases culture complexity. The astrocyte-to-neuron ratio can be manipulated via different culturing techniques but is not well characterized. Primary pyramidal neurons from rat hippocampi were cultured to obtain three configurations confluent astrocyte, sporadic astrocyte, and astrocyte free. Qualitatively, neurons appeared healthier in astrocyte-containing cultures, as indicated by thicker neurites and no evidence of free-floating debris or neurite beading, compared with astrocyte free. Each condition was characterized via astrocyte-to-neuron ratio, neurite length, and branching analysis with significant differences among all groups. The confluent-astrocyte group had the largest astrocyte-to-neuron ratio and the lowest values for neurite length and branching. This study characterized cell cultures under different media conditions to help inform future work.

Subject Categories:

  • Anatomy and Physiology

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