Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Technology
Networks
Scientific Communities
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

A Better Way to Culture Central Nervous Cells

Published: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Last Updated: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Bookmark and Share
A protein associated with neuron damage in Alzheimer's patients provides a superior scaffold for growing central nervous system cells in the lab.

The findings, in press at the journal Biomaterials, suggest a better method of growing neurons outside the body that might then be implanted to treat people with neurodegenerative diseases.

The research compared the effects of two proteins that can be used as an artificial scaffold for growing neurons (nerve cells) from the central nervous system. The study found that central nervous system neurons from rats cultured in apolipoprotein E-4 (apoE4) grew better than neurons cultured in laminin, which had been considered the gold standard for growing mammalian neurons in the lab.

“Most scientists assumed that laminin was the best protein for growing CNS (central nervous system),” said Kwang-Min Kim, a biomedical engineering graduate student at Brown University and lead author of the study, “but we demonstrated that apoE4 has substantially better performance for mammalian CNS neurons.”

Kim performed the research under the direction of Tayhas Palmore, professor of engineering and medical science and Kim’s Ph.D. adviser. Also involved in the project was Janice Vicenty, an undergraduate from the University of Puerto Rico, who was working in the Palmore lab as a summer research fellow through the Leadership Alliance.

The results are surprising partly because of the association of apoE4 with Alzheimer’s. Apolipoproteins are responsible for distributing and depositing cholesterols and other lipids in the brain. They come in three varieties: apoE2, apoE3 and apoE4. People with the gene that produces apoE4 are at higher risk for amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s. But exactly how the protein itself contributes to Alzheimer’s is not known.

This study suggests that outside the body, where the protein can be separated from the cholesterols it normally carries, apoE4 is actually beneficial in promoting neuron growth.

Growing new neurons

In the body, neurons grow in what’s called an extracellular matrix (ECM), a protein-rich scaffold that provides cells with nutrients and a molecular structure in which to grow. To grow neurons in the lab, scientists try to mimic the ECM present in the body. Laminin is a common protein in the body’s ECM, and studies have shown that laminin aids the growth of neurons from the peripheral nervous system (nerve cells that grow outside the brain and spinal cord).

It was largely assumed, Kim said, that because laminin was good for growing peripheral nerve cells, it would also be good for growing central nerve cells. That turns out not to be the case.

Kim was inspired to test the effects of apoE4 by a previous study that found that a mixture of apoE4 and laminin promoted CNS cell growth better than laminin alone. “The previous work hadn’t tested the effects apoE4 by itself,” Kim said. “So we started working on a side-by-side comparison of apoE4 and laminin.”

Kim and his colleagues cultured rat hippocampal cells — a model for mammalian CNS neurons — in four different treatments: laminin, laminin and apoE4 mixed, apoE4 alone, and bare glass. They found that cells cultured in apoE4 alone performed substantially better than any other treatment. The apoE4 cells were more likely to adhere to the protein scaffold, which is necessary for proper growth. They also showed more robust growth of axons and dendrites, the wire-like appendages that enable neurons to send and receive nerve signals.

Laminin doesn’t seem to be of much benefit at all for culturing CNS cells, according to the study. Cells cultured on laminin alone did not perform any better than cells cultured on bare glass.

That was another big surprise, Kim said, because laminin is so widely used in all kinds of neuron cultures.

A second part of the research looked at the chemical pathways through which proteins may enhance neuron growth. Previous work had found two neuron receptors, the gateways through which neurons interact with the outside world, that play a role in how external proteins trigger cell growth. However, when Kim blocked these two receptors, known as integrin and HSPG, he found that apoE4 still enhanced neuron growth. That finding suggests that neurons use an as yet unknown pathway to interact with apoE4.

“This discovery opens up a new target for researchers who are interested in identifying receptors that are important for spurring neural growth,” Palmore said.

Application to neural prosthetics

Unlike other cells in the body, nerve cells tend not to regenerate after being damaged by disease or trauma. So researchers hope that they can eventually implant lab-grown cells in the body to treat trauma or neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

“People are looking at all these different proteins to see if we can make a material — a scaffold — that to a neuron, looks and feels like their natural environment,” said Palmore. “The finding that apoE4 is a better protein to add to neural scaffolds is a good breakthrough because most people have been using laminin for the central nervous system models, which turns out to be less than optimal.”

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation (HRD-0548311) and the National Institutes of Health.


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 3,800+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Study Backs Flu Vaccinations for Elderly
Brown University researchers found vaccines well matched to the year’s flu strain significantly reduce deaths and hospitalizations compared to when the match is poor, suggesting that vaccination indeed makes a difference.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Web App Helps Researchers Explore Cancer Genetics
Brown University computer scientists have developed a new interactive tool to help researchers and clinicians explore the genetic underpinnings of cancer.
Monday, July 27, 2015
Tapeworm Drug Shows Promise Against MRSA
A new study shows that a drug already approved to fight tapeworms in people, effectively treated MRSA superbugs in lab cultures and in infected nematode worms.
Monday, April 27, 2015
A New Wrinkle For Cell Culture
Researchers at Brown University have developed an advanced technique for cell culturing that uses sheets of wrinkled graphene to mimic the complex 3-D environment inside the body.
Friday, April 24, 2015
Gold By Special Delivery Intensifies Cancer-Killing Radiation
Researchers at Brown and URI have demonstrated what could be a more precise method for targeting cancer cells for radiation.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
DNA ‘Cage’ Could Improve Nanopore Technology
Scientists at Brown University have designed a nanoscale cage that can trap a single DNA strand and allow before-and-after sequencing of the same DNA strand in research trials.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
New Technology Makes Tissues, Someday Maybe Organs
A new device for building large tissues from living components of three-dimensional microtissues borrows on ideas from electronics manufacturing.
Wednesday, January 07, 2015
New Research Unlocks a Mystery of Albinism
A team led by Brown University biologists has discovered the way in which a specific genetic mutation appears to lead to the lack of melanin production underlying a form of albinism.
Thursday, December 18, 2014
If CD8 T Cells Take on One Virus, They’ll Fight Others Too
The findings suggest that innate immunity changes with the body’s experience and that the T cells are more versatile than thought.
Saturday, October 25, 2014
A ‘Clear’ Choice for Clearing 3-D Cell Cultures
A new study is the first to evaluate three chemical technologies for making animal tissues see-through side-by-side for use with engineered 3-D tissue cultures.
Thursday, September 04, 2014
Study Proposes New Ovarian Cancer Targets
Researchers from Brown University propose that TAFs may be important suspects in the progression of ovarian cancer.
Friday, March 14, 2014
Gold Nanoparticles Give an Edge in Recycling CO2
It’s a 21st-century alchemist’s dream: turning Earth’s superabundance of carbon dioxide into fuel or useful industrial chemicals.
Monday, November 11, 2013
Fly Study Finds Two New Drivers of RNA Editing
A new study in Nature Communications finds that RNA editing is not only regulated by sequences and structures near the editing sites but also by ones found much farther away.
Thursday, August 08, 2013
Newly Found CLAMP Protein Regulates Genes
Protein turns out to be the missing link that allows a key regulatory complex to find and operate on the lone X chromosome of male fruit flies.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
NMR Advance Brings Proteins into the Open
A key protein interaction had eluded scientists’ observation until a team of researchers cracked the case by combining data from four different techniques of NMR.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Scientific News
NIH Study Finds Calorie Restriction Lowers Some Risk Factors for Age-Related Diseases
Two-year trial did not produce expected metabolic changes, but influenced other life span markers.
Immunotherapy Agent Benefits Patients with Drug-Resistant Multiple Myeloma in First Human Trial
Daratumumab proved generally safe in patients, even at the highest doses.
Low-level Arsenic Exposure Before Birth Associated with Early Puberty in Female Mice
Study examine whether low-dose arsenic exposure could have similar health outcomes in humans.
Inciting an Immune Attack On Cancer Cells
A new minimally invasive vaccine that combines cancer cells and immune-enhancing factors could be used clinically to launch a destructive attack on tumors.
‘Mutation-Tracking’ Blood Test for Breast Cancer
Scientists have developed a blood test for breast cancer able to identify which patients will suffer a relapse after treatment, months before tumours are visible on hospital scans.
Cellular Contamination Pathway for Heavy Elements Identified
Berkeley Lab scientists find that an iron-binding protein can transport actinides into cells.
Intensity of Desert Storms May Affect Ocean Phytoplankton
MIT study finds phytoplankton are extremely sensitive to changing levels of desert dust.
Common ‘Heart Attack’ Blood Test May Predict Future Hypertension
Small rises in troponin levels may have value as markers for subclinical heart damage and high blood pressure.
LaVision BioTec Reports on the Neuro Research on the Human Brain After Trauma
Company reports on the work of Dr Ali Ertürk from the Institute for Stroke and Dementia Research at LMU Munich.
NIH Study Shows No Benefit of Omega-3 Supplements for Cognitive Decline
Research was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,800+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!