Novel microfluidic platform for culturing neurons: culturing and biochemical analysis of neuronal components

Biotechnol J. 2009 Nov;4(11):1573-7. doi: 10.1002/biot.200900159.


Neurons, one of the most polarized types of cells, are typically composed of cell bodies (soma), dendrites, and axons. Many events such as electric signal transmission, axonal transport, and local protein synthesis occur in the axon, so that a method for isolating axons from somata and dendrites is required for systematically investigating these axonal events. Based on a previously developed neuron culture method for isolating and directing the growth of central nervous system axons without introducing neutrophins, we report three modified microfluidic platforms: (1) for performing biochemical analysis of the pure axonal fraction, (2) for culturing tissue explants, and (3) a design that allows high content assay on same group of cells. The key feature of these newly developed platforms is that the devices incorporate a number of microgrooves for isolating axons from the cell body. They utilize an open cellculture area, unlike the enclosed channels of the previous design. This design has extended the axonal channel so that a sufficient amount of pure axonal fraction can be obtained to perform biochemical analysis. The design also addresses the drawback of the previous neuron culture device, which was not adaptable for culturing thick neuronal tissues such as brain explants, neurospheres, and embryoid bodies, which are essential model tissues in neuroscience research. The design has an open cellculture area in the center and four enclosed channels around open area, and is suitable for multiple drug screening assays.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Culture Techniques / instrumentation*
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques / instrumentation*
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Rats