Background: Culturing primary cortical neurons is an essential neuroscience technique. However, most cultures are derived from rodent brains and standard protocols for human brain cultures are sparse. Herein, we describe preparation, maintenance and major characteristics of a primary human mixed brain culture, including neurons, obtained from legally aborted fetal brain tissue. This approach employs standard materials and techniques used in the preparation of rodent neuron cultures, with critical modifications.
Results: This culture has distinct differences from rodent cultures. Specifically, a significant numbers of cells in the human culture are derived from progenitor cells, and the yield and survival of the cells grossly depend on the presence of bFGF. In the presence of bFGF, this culture can be maintained for an extended period. Abundant productions of amyloid-β, tau and proteins make this a powerful model for Alzheimer's research. The culture also produces glia and different sub-types of neurons.
Conclusion: We provide a well-characterized methodology for human mixed brain cultures useful to test therapeutic agents under various conditions, and to carry forward mechanistic and translational studies for several brain disorders.