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J Neurosci Methods. 2006 Jun 30;154(1-2):239-44. Epub 2006 Feb 17.

A sensitive and selective assay of neuronal degeneration in cell culture.

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Division of Pharmacology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, 43210, USA.


We have developed a simple and sensitive assay to quantify neuron-specific death in primary cell cultures that represents a significant improvement over more commonly used methods including manual cell counting and lactate dehydrogenase release. This new method selectively detects neuronal death by combining immunolabeling for a neuron-specific marker with the ease, sensitivity, and speed of an enzyme-linked fluorescence assay. Using microtubule associated protein 2 (MAP2) as a neuron-specific marker, we assessed glutamate-receptor mediated neurotoxicity in neuron-enriched cultures and in mixed neuronal/glial cultures established from mouse forebrain and compared these results to neuronal death measured by lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release. We were able to achieve statistically significant differences in toxicity between intermediately toxic concentrations of glutamate (30, 50, and 100 microM) with the MAP2 assay, while we were not able to discriminate among these concentrations with the LDH assay. We were also able to measure hydrogen peroxide-induced neuronal death, and demonstrate neuroprotection by antioxidant addition. This new assay is easily adaptable to high-throughput in vitro screens of neurodegeneration and of neuroprotective therapies.

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