Experimental Brains in A Dish

Tan GA, Furber KL, Thangaraj MP, Sobchishin L, Doucette JR, Nazarali AJ. Organotypic Cultures from the Adult CNS: A Novel Model to Study Demyelination and Remyelination Ex Vivo. Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2017 Aug 9. doi: 10.1007/s10571-017-0529-6. [Epub ahead of print]

Experimental models of multiple sclerosis (MS) have significantly advanced our understanding of pathophysiology and therapeutic interventions. Although in vivo rodent models are considered to most closely represent the complex cellular and molecular disease states of the human central nervous system (CNS), these can be costly to maintain and require long timelines. Organotypic slice cultures maintain the cytotypic organization observed in the intact CNS, yet provide many of the experimental advantages of in vitro cell culture models. Cerebellar organotypic cultures have proven useful for studying myelination and remyelination, but this model has only been established using early postnatal tissue. This young brain tissue allows for neuro development ex vivo to mimic the ‘mature’ CNS; however, there are many differences between postnatal and adult organotypic cultures. This may be particularly relevant to MS, as a major barrier to myelin regeneration is age. This paper describes a modified protocol to study demyelination and remyelination in adult cerebellar tissue, which has been used to demonstrate neuroprotection with omega-3 fatty acids. Thus, adult cerebellar organotypic cultures provide a novel ex vivo platform for screening potential therapies in myelin degeneration and repair.

Much or what we have learned about myelination and nerve development comes from animal studies and using animals shortly  after or before birth when the nervous system is developing. However developmental myelination is not always the same as remyelination. So techniques to show how nerve function and myelination occurs in adults is welcome. Let.s hope this takes off and is useful. Many save on animal use.

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