Long-term Neuroglial Cocultures as a Brain Aging Model: Hallmarks of Senescence, MicroRNA Expression Profiles, and Comparison With In Vivo Models

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2016 Jan;71(1):50-60. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glu231. Epub 2015 Jan 7.


Our purpose was to evaluate long-term neuroglial cocultures as a model for investigating senescence in the nervous system and to assess its similarities with in vivo models. To this aim, we maintained the cultures from 15 days in vitro (mature cultures) up to 27 days in vitro (senescent cultures), measuring senescence-associated, neuronal, dendritic, and astrocytic markers. Whole microRNA expression profiles were compared with those measured in the cortex of 18- and 24-month-old C57Bl/6J aged mice and of transgenic TgCRND8 mice, a model of amyloid-β deposition. Neuroglial cocultures displayed features of cellular senescence (increased senescence-associated-β-galactosidase activity, oxidative stress, γ-H2AX expression, IL-6 production, astrogliosis) that were concentration dependently counteracted by the antiaging compound resveratrol (1-5 µM). Among the 1,080 microRNAs analyzed, 335 were downregulated or absent in 27 compared with 15 days in vitro and resveratrol reversed this effect. A substantial overlapping was found between age-associated changes in microRNA expression profiles in vitro and in TgCRND8 mice but not in physiologically aged mice, indicating that this culture model displays more similarities with pathological than physiological brain aging. Our results demonstrate that neuroglial cocultures aged in vitro can be useful for investigating the cellular and molecular mechanisms of brain aging and for preliminary testing of protective compounds.

Keywords: Aging; Microarray; Neurodegeneration.; Neuroglial cocultures; miRNA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Brain* / metabolism
  • Brain* / pathology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cellular Senescence / physiology*
  • Coculture Techniques / methods
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Down-Regulation
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • MicroRNAs / analysis*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases* / metabolism
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases* / pathology
  • Neuroglia / metabolism*
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • beta-Galactosidase / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • Histones
  • Interleukin-6
  • MicroRNAs
  • gamma-H2AX protein, mouse
  • beta-Galactosidase