Send to

Choose Destination
Lab Chip. 2013 Aug 7;13(15):3008-21. doi: 10.1039/c3lc50249j.

Glia co-culture with neurons in microfluidic platforms promotes the formation and stabilization of synaptic contacts.

Author information

Department of Biological Sciences and Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37235, USA.


Two novel microfluidic cell culture schemes, a vertically-layered set-up and a four chamber set-up, were developed for co-culturing central nervous system (CNS) neurons and glia. The cell chambers in these devices were separated by pressure-enabled valve barriers, which permitted us to control communication between the two cell types. The unique design of these devices facilitated the co-culture of glia with neurons in close proximity (∼50-100 μm), differential transfection of neuronal populations, and dynamic visualization of neuronal interactions, such as the development of synapses. With these co-culture devices, initial synaptic contact between neurons transfected with different fluorescent markers, such as green fluorescent protein (GFP) and mCherry-synaptophysin, was imaged using high-resolution fluorescence microscopy. The presence of glial cells had a profound influence on synapses by increasing the number and stability of synaptic contacts. Interestingly, as determined by liquid chromatography-ion mobility-mass spectrometry, neuron-glia co-cultures produced elevated levels of soluble factors compared to that secreted by individual neuron or glia cultures, suggesting a potential mechanism by which neuron-glia interactions could modulate synaptic function. Collectively, these results show that communication between neurons and glia is critical for the formation and stability of synapses and point to the importance of developing neuron-glia co-culture systems such as the microfluidic platforms described in this study.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Royal Society of Chemistry Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center