Isolation and culture of adult neurons and neurospheres

Nat Protoc. 2007;2(6):1490-8. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2007.207.


Here we present a protocol for extraction and culture of neurons from adult rat or mouse CNS. The method proscribes an optimized protease digestion of slices, control of osmolarity and pH outside the incubator with Hibernate and density gradient separation of neurons from debris. This protocol produces yields of millions of cortical, hippocampal neurons or neurosphere progenitors from each brain. The entire process of neuron isolation and culture takes less than 4 h. With suitable growth factors, adult neuron regeneration of axons and dendrites in culture proceeds over 1-3 weeks to allow controlled studies in pharmacology, electrophysiology, development, regeneration and neurotoxicology. Adult neurospheres can be collected in 1 week as a source of neuroprogenitors ethically preferred over embryonic or fetal sources. This protocol emphasizes two differences between neuron differentiation and neurosphere proliferation: adhesion dependence and the differentiating power of retinyl acetate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Cell Separation / methods*
  • Mice
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Rats