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J Neurosci Methods. 2009 Nov 15;184(2):294-302. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2009.08.018. Epub 2009 Aug 29.

Molecular and immunocytochemical characterization of primary neuronal cultures from adult rat brain: Differential expression of neuronal and glial protein markers.

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Department of Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatric Research, Indiana University School of Medicine, 791 Union Drive, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA.


Neurobiological studies using primary neuronal cultures commonly employ fetal-derived neurons, but much less often adult brain-derived neurons. Our goal is to perform morphological and molecular characterization of primary neuronal cultures from adult rat brain, including the relative expression of neuronal and glial cell markers at different time points. We tested the hypothesis that long-term neuronal viability is compatible with glial proliferation in adult neuron culture. We examined neuron culture from adult rat brain, which was maintained at steady state up to 24 days, and characterized them on the basis of cellular, molecular and biochemical properties at different time points of the culture. We identified neuronal and glial cells by both immunocytochemical and western immunoblotting techniques using NSE and Tau as neuronal markers and GFAP as glial protein marker, which revealed the presence of predominantly neuronal cells in the initial phase of the culture and a rise in glial cells from day 12 onwards. Notably, neuronal cells were preserved in the culture along with the glial cells even at day 24. Transfection of the cultured cells with a GFP expression vector and plasmids containing a luciferase reporter gene under the control of two different gene promoters demonstrated DNA transfectability. Taken together, these results suggest a differential expression of neuronal and glial cells at different time points and long-term neuronal viability in the presence of glial proliferation. Such adult neurons serve as a suitable system for the application of neurodegeneration models and for drug target discovery in various brain disorders including Alzheimer's disease.

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