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J Neurosci Methods. 2000 Oct 30;102(2):187-95.

Primary neural precursor cell expansion, differentiation and cytosolic Ca(2+) response in three-dimensional collagen gel.

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  • 1Center for Bio/Molecular Science and Engineering, Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC 20375, USA.


To investigate the ability to culture neural precursor cells in a three-dimensional (3D) collagen gel, neuroepithelial cells were isolated from embryonic day 13 rat cortex, dispersed within type I collagen and maintained for up to 30 days in vitro. Cultured in Neuorobasal medium supplemented with B27 containing basic fibroblast growth factor, the collagen-entrapped precursor cells actively expanded and formed clone-like clusters. Many cells in the center of the cluster were proliferating as revealed by 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine uptake. Some cells began to migrate away from the center at 5 days and were labeled by either neuronal marker neuron-specific beta-tubulin (TuJ1) or astrocytic marker glial fibrillary acidic protein. The differentiated neurons (TuJ1(+)) exhibited characteristic cytosolic Ca(2+) oscillations in response to excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate. These findings suggest the suitability of the 3D culture system for the proliferation and differentiation of neural precursor cells.

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