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Toxicol In Vitro. 2012 Sep;26(6):993-1000. doi: 10.1016/j.tiv.2012.04.025. Epub 2012 May 2.

Automated neurosphere sorting and plating by the COPAS large particle sorter is a suitable method for high-throughput 3D in vitro applications.

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Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine, Department Molecular Toxicology, Auf'm Hennekamp 50, 40225 Duesseldorf, Germany.


Existing guidelines for testing developmental neurotoxicity (DNT) propose investigations in rodents, which are ethically questionable as well as time and cost intensive. Thus, there is international agreement that predictive in vitro methods are needed to increase efficiency of testing and limit the number of animals used. One of a variety of novel approaches for DNT testing utilizes neurospheres, three-dimensional aggregate cultures of primary normal neural progenitor cells (NPCs). Because sorting and plating of single neurospheres is one of the most time-consuming steps within the assay, the aim of this study was to evaluate if the complex object parametric analyzer and sorter (COPAS PLUS(TM), Union Biometrica Inc.) is a suitable tool for automated sorting and plating of neurospheres. The results of the comparison of NPC viability, proliferation, migration, differentiation and intracellular oxidative stress between manually and COPAS sorted and plated neurospheres of different species show that the automation by the COPAS instrument does not influence the basic performance of neurospheres. Therefore, we consider the COPAS instrument as a useful tool for higher throughput neurosphere research in toxicology, neuroregeneration, brain development, drug development and brain aging research.

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