A combined ex/in vivo assay to detect effects of exogenously added factors in neural stem cells

Nat Protoc. 2007;2(4):849-859. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2007.104.


We describe a protocol developed/modified by our group for the ex vivo and in vivo assessment of the response to a soluble factor of murine neural stem cells from the adult sub-ventricular zone (SVZ). The procedure includes several experimental options that can be used either independently or in combination. Potential factor effects on self-renewal, survival and proliferation are assayed by means of neurosphere cultures, with the factor administered directly in vitro to the culture plates (Step 1) or infused in vivo immediately before tissue dissociation (Step 3). We also use bromodeoxiuridine (BrdU) retention to label slowly dividing cells in vivo and subsequently perform two different types of experiments. In one set of experiments, the factor is added to primary cultures of stem cells obtained from the BrdU-pulsed animals and effects are tested on label-retaining cells after immunocytochemistry (Step 2). In another set, prolonged intraventricular infusion of the factor in BrdU-pulsed animals is followed by immunohistochemical analysis of BrdU labeling in the intact SVZ (Step 4). The minimum estimated time for the full combined procedure is 45 d.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bromodeoxyuridine
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cerebral Ventricles / cytology*
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods*
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / pharmacology
  • Mice
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Staining and Labeling / methods
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / drug effects


  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Bromodeoxyuridine