Cultured muscle cells are an inadequate model to recapitulate innervated muscle in vivo. A functional motor unit can be reproduced in vitro by innervation of differentiated human primary muscle cells using rat embryo spinal cord explants. This article describes how co-cultures of spinal cord explants and muscle cells are established.
Dissection and Culture of Chick Statoacoustic Ganglion and Spinal Cord Explants in Collagen Gels for Neurite Outgrowth Assays
We demonstrate how to dissect and culture chick E4 statoacoustic ganglion and E6 spinal cord explants. Explants are cultured under serum-free conditions in 3D collagen gels for 24 hours. Neurite responsiveness is tested with growth factor-supplemented medium and with protein-coated beads.
Assaying the Ability of Diffusible Signaling Molecules to Reorient Embryonic Spinal Commissural Axons
This assay assesses the ability of a signaling molecule, here Bone Morphogenetic Protein 7 (BMP7), to reorient commissural axons. An explant of embryonic dorsal spinal cord is cultured adjacent to an aggregate of COS cells secreting the candidate growth factors. Reoriented commissural axons growing within the explant are visualized by immunohistochemistry.
Adult and Embryonic Skeletal Muscle Microexplant Culture and Isolation of Skeletal Muscle Stem Cells
The micro-dissected explants technique is a robust and reliable method for isolating proliferative skeletal muscle cells from juvenile, adult or embryonic muscles as a source of skeletal muscle stem cells. Uniquely, these cells have been clonally derived to produce skeletal muscle stem cell lines used for in vivo transplantation.
Isolation of Cerebrospinal Fluid from Rodent Embryos for use with Dissected Cerebral Cortical Explants
1Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, 2Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, Institute for Neuroscience, The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, 3Division of Genetics, Department of Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, 4Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Boston Children's Hospital, 5Department of Pathology, Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School
The ventricular cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) bathes the neuroepithelial and cerebral cortical progenitor cells during early brain development in the embryo. Here we describe the method developed to isolate ventricular CSF from rodent embryos of different ages in order to investigate its biological function. In addition, we demonstrate our cerebral cortical explant dissection and culture technique that allows for explant growth with minimal volumes of culture medium or CSF.
Xenopus laevis provides an ideal model system for studying cell fate specification and physiological function of individual retinal cells in primary cell culture. Here we present a technique for dissecting retinal tissues and generating primary cell cultures that are imaged for calcium activity and analyzed by in situ hybridization.
DiI-Labeling of DRG Neurons to Study Axonal Branching in a Whole Mount Preparation of Mouse Embryonic Spinal Cord
The stereotyped projections of sensory afferents into the rodent spinal cord offer an easily accessible experimental system to study axonal branching through the tracing of single axons.
An alternative way of isolating mouse embryonic motoneurons from the spinal cord is described. The method takes into account the fact that lectin can bind to the low affinity nerve growth factor receptor p75NTR. This lectin-based preplating allows a purification similar to that with a specific antibody against the p75NTR.
1Molecular Biology of Neural Development, Institut de Recherches Cliniques de Montréal, 2Division of Experimental Medicine and Program in Neuroengineering, McGill University, 3Program in Neuroengineering, McGill University, 4Montreal Neurological Institute, 5Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, McGill University, 6Department of Biology, McGill University, 7Department of Medicine, Universite de Montreal - University of Montreal
This video demonstrates a method to dissect and culture commissural neurons from E13 rat dorsal spinal cord. Dissociated commissural neurons are useful to study the cellular and molecular mechanisms of axon growth and guidance.
1School of Dentistry, Cardiff Institute of Tissue Engineering & Repair, Cardiff University, 2Shandong Qianfoshan Hospital, Shandong University School of Medicine, 3Dermatology and Ophthalmology Research, Institute for Regenerative Cures, University of California at Davis
This protocol demonstrates methods used to establish 2D and 3D environments in custom-designed electrotactic chambers, which can track cells in vivo/ex vivo using time-lapse recording at the single cell level, in order to investigate galvanotaxis/electrotaxis and other cellular responses to direct current (DC) electric fields (EFs).
1Hugo W. Moser Research Institute at Kennedy Krieger, Johns Hopkins University, 2Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 3University of Maryland, 4Experimental Neurology, Biogen Idec, 5The Brain Science Institute, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 6Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
This protocol outlines the derivation of Glial Restricted Precursors from fetal spinal cords and maintained in vitro either for transplantation or for the study of oligodendrocytic lineage.
Slice cultures facilitate the manipulation of embryo development by gene and pharmacological perturbations. However, culture conditions must ensure that normal development can proceed within the reduced environment of the slice. We illustrate a protocol that facilitates normal spinal cord development to proceed for at least 24 hr.
Deciphering Axonal Pathways of Genetically Defined Groups of Neurons in the Chick Neural Tube Utilizing in ovo Electroporation
This video demonstrates how to visualize axonal pathways of genetically defined groups of neurons in the embryonic chick spinal cord utilizing in ovo electroporation of reporter genes under the control of specific enhancer elements.
Surgical Transplantation of Mouse Neural Stem Cells into the Spinal Cords of Mice Infected with Neurotropic Mouse Hepatitis Virus
1Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, University of California, Irvine, 2Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Center, University of California, Irvine, 3Institute for Immunology, University of California, Irvine
The transplantation of mouse neural stem cells (NSCs) into the spinal cords of mice with established demyelination is detailed. The preparation of NSCs, the laminectomy of thoracic vertebra 9 (T9), and transplantation of NSCs is outlined along with the pre- and post-operative care of the mice.
Surgical Technique for Spinal Cord Delivery of Therapies: Demonstration of Procedure in Gottingen Minipigs
1Department of Neurosurgery, Emory University, 2Department of Neuroscience, Medical University of South Carolina, 3Division of Neurosurgery, University of Alabama, Birmingham, 4Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, 5Department of Biomedical Engineering, Emory University
Short visual description of the surgical technique and device used for the delivery of (gene and cell) therapies into the spinal cord. The technique is demonstrated in the animal but is entirely translatable and currently being used for human application.
1Norton Neuroscience Institute, Norton Healthcare, 2Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Group, Stark Neurosciences Research Institute, Department of Neurological Surgery and Goodman and Campbell Brain and Spine, Medical Neuroscience Graduate Program, and Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Indiana University School of Medicine
A novel technique to create a reproducible in vivo model of cervical spinal cord laceration injury in the mouse is described. This technique is based on spine stabilization by fixation of the cervical facets and laceration of the spinal cord using an oscillating blade with an accuracy of ±0.01 mm.
A demonstration of the isolation of neonatal mouse spinal cord for electrophysiologic studies.
In this paper we present a method for transplanting human stem cells into various regions of the central nervous system of the chicken embryo. This provides an in vivo model for assessing the proliferation and differentiation of various types of human stem cells in embryonic tissue environments.
Dorsal Column Steerability with Dual Parallel Leads using Dedicated Power Sources: A Computational Model
Using a mathematical model of spinal cord stimulation, we found that a multi-source system with independent power sources for each contact can target more central points of stimulation on the dorsal column (100 vs 3) and has 50-fold more field steering resolution (0.02mm vs 1mm) than a single-source system.
1Neural Development Group, Division of Cell and Developmental Biology, College of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK, 2Wellcome Trust Centre for Gene Regulation and Expression, College of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK
Imaging embryonic tissue in real-time is challenging over long periods of time. Here we present an assay for monitoring cellular and sub-cellular changes in chick spinal cord for long periods with high spatial and temporal resolution. This technique can be adapted for other regions of the nervous system and developing embryo.
1Sensory Motor Performance Program, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, 2Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition, University of Illinois at Chicago, 3Department of Physical Therapy, University of Illinois at Chicago
This video demonstrates modulation of reflex activity, volitional strength and ambulation through clinical and quantitative assessments in individuals with motor incomplete SCI as a result of acute oral administration of a serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).
Here we show our method to isolate mouse epidermal neural crest stem cells (EPI-NCSC). Technique involves micro-dissecting whisker follicles, isolating the bulge and placeing it into tissue culture. EPI-NCSC start to emigrate from bulge explants onto the substratum within 3 - 4 days.
We describe two tactile sensory testing methods for acute or chronic periods of spinal cord injury in rats. These validated procedures can detect the development and maintenance of allodynia-like sensations.
Organotypic Slice Culture of GFP-expressing Mouse Embryos for Real-time Imaging of Peripheral Nerve Outgrowth
We present a method to prepare organotypic slices of mid-gestation mouse embryos for the cultivation and time-lapse imaging of peripheral nerve outgrowth.
1Département Nociception et Douleur, Institut des Neurosciences Cellulaires et Intégratives, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), 2Departments of Anesthesiology and Pharmacology, Columbia University, 3Department of Anesthesiology, Niigata University Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences
Viral vectors allow for targeted gene manipulation. We demonstrate a method for conditional gene expression or ablation in the mouse spinal cord, using stereotaxic injection of a viral vector into the dorsal horn, a prominent site of synaptic contact between primary somatosensory afferents and neurons of the central nervous system.
A minimally invasive protocol to stabilize the mouse spinal column and perform repetitive in vivo spinal cord imaging using two-photon microscopy is described. This method combines a spinal stabilization device and an anesthetic regimen to minimize respiratory-induced movements and produce raw imaging data that require no alignment or other post-processing.
A reliable and repeatable way to produce a cervical unilateral spinal cord injury using the Infinite Horizon impactor is described. The method takes advantage of a custom designed frame and clamp to stabilize the spine. The standardized procedure and biomechanical injury parameters result in sufficient and sustained injuries.
Quantitative Assessment of Immune Cells in the Injured Spinal Cord Tissue by Flow Cytometry: a Novel Use for a Cell Purification Method
1Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders, University of California, 2Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, University of California, 3Anatomy & Neurobiology, University of California, 4Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center, University of California, 5Section of Molecular Biology, University of California, 6Reeve-Irvine Research Center, University of California
Quantification of cellular inflammation in the injured/pathological CNS by flow cytometry is complicated by lipid/myelin debris that can have similar size and granulation to cells, decreasing sensitivity/accuracy. We have advanced a cell preparation method to remove myelin debris and improve cell detection by flow cytometry in the injured spinal cord.
We provide a practical guide for delivering tracers in vivo and use the spinocerebellar pathway as a model system to demonstrate essential steps for successful neuronal circuit analysis in mice. We describe in detail our versatile tracing protocol that exploits wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) conjugated to Alexa fluorophores.
Traumatic injury to the spinal cord disrupts communication with the brain. To restore lost connectivity we utilize a peripheral nerve graft to provide a substratum for regenerating fibers in combination with neurotrophic factors and matrix-modulating enzymes to remove inhibitory molecules to promote long distance growth.
Intraspinal Cell Transplantation for Targeting Cervical Ventral Horn in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury
Neural precursor transplantation is a promising strategy for protecting and/or replacing lost/dysfunctional cervical phrenic motor neurons in spinal cord injury (SCI) and the motor neuron disorder, amyotrophic laterals sclerosis (ALS). We provide a protocol for cell delivery to cervical spinal cord ventral horn in rodent models of ALS and SCI.
A mouse model for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is examined clinically and behaviorally. As a prerequisite for an accompanying immunohistological analysis the preparation of the spinal cord is depicted in detail.
In ovo Electroporation of miRNA-based Plasmids in the Developing Neural Tube and Assessment of Phenotypes by DiI Injection in Open-book Preparations
A method by which gene expression in the neural tube can be downregulated in a cell type-specific, traceable manner is described. We demonstrate how in ovo electroporation of microRNA-based plasmids that elicit spatiotemporally controlled RNA interference can be used to investigate commissural axon guidance in the developing neural tube.
1Departments of Pathology and Cell Biology, and Neuroscience, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, 2Department of Ophthalmology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
Here we present two techniques for manipulating gene expression in murine retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) by in utero and ex vivo electroporation. These techniques enable one to examine how alterations in gene expression affect RGC development, axon guidance, and functional properties.
A demonstration of the fabrication and use of an extracellular suction electrode used to measure electrophysiological recordings of neonatal rodent spinal cords in vitro
Longitudinal Evaluation of Mouse Hind Limb Bone Loss After Spinal Cord Injury using Novel, in vivo, Methodology
A longitudinal examination of bone loss in the femurs and tibiae of adult mice was performed following spinal cord injury using sequential low-dose X-ray scans. Tibia bone loss was detected throughout the study, while bone loss in the femur was not detected until 40 days post injury.
Culturing neural explants from dissected Xenopus laevis embryos that express fluorescent fusion proteins allows for imaging of growth cone cytoskeletal dynamics.
A Novel Method for Assessing Proximal and Distal Forelimb Function in the Rat: the Irvine, Beatties and Bresnahan (IBB) Forelimb Scale
Here we will describe a rodent behavioral assay that can detect recovery of both proximal and distal forelimb function including digit movements during a naturally occurring behavior that does not require extensive training or deprivation to enhance motivation.
Here, we describe a method for isolation, culture and manipulation of mouse embryonic pancreas. This represents an excellent ex vivo system for studying various aspects of pancreatic development, including morphogenesis, differentiation and growth. Pancreatic bud explants can be cultured for several days and used in a range of different applications, including whole-mount immunofluorescence and live imaging.
Simultaneous Intracellular Recording of a Lumbar Motoneuron and the Force Produced by its Motor Unit in the Adult Mouse In vivo
This new method permits the simultaneous intracellular recording of a single adult mouse motoneuron and the measurement of the force produced by its muscle fibers. The combined investigation of the electrical and mechanical properties of motor units in normal and genetically modified animals is a breakthrough for the study of the neuromuscular system.
This video demonstrates the induction and clinical scoring of an animal model of multiple sclerosis: chronic-relapsing experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis in DA rats. The disease, induced by immunizing rats with an emulsion containing whole rat spinal cord and complete Freund's adjuvant, presents clinical signs resembling the human disease.
We describe a simple and low cost technique for introducing high concentration of fluorescent and calcium-sensitive dyes into neurons or any neuronal tract using a polyethylene suction pipette.
Ex utero Electroporation and Whole Hemisphere Explants: A Simple Experimental Method for Studies of Early Cortical Development
This protocol describes an improved explant procedure that involves ex utero electroporation, dissection and culture of entire cerebral hemispheres from the embryonic mouse. The preparation facilitates pharmacological studies and assays of gene function during early cortical development.
1Temple University, Shriners Hospitals Pediatric Research Center and Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, 2Medical Research Service, Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital, 3Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, Drexel University College of Medicine, 4Shriners Hospitals Pediatric Research Center and Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Temple University School of Medicine
An in vivo imaging protocol to monitor primary sensory axons following dorsal root crush is described. The procedures utilize wide-field fluorescence microscopy and thy1-YFP transgenic mice, and permit repeated imaging of axon regeneration over 4 cm in the PNS and axon interactions with the interface of the CNS.
In this video we demonstrate how to isolate mononuclear cells from the central nervous system of rats with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.
Here we describe a Schwann cell (SC) migration assay in which SCs are able to develop along extending axons.
A Practical Approach to Genetic Inducible Fate Mapping: A Visual Guide to Mark and Track Cells In Vivo
Genetic Inducible Fate Mapping (GIFM) marks and tracks cells with fine spatial and temporal control in vivo and elucidates how cells from a specific genetic lineage contribute to developing and adult tissues. Demonstrated here are the techniques required to fate map E12.5 mouse embryos for epifluorescent and explant analysis.
This video protocol demonstrates the application of the neurosphere assay for the isolation and expansion of neural stem cells from the ganglionic eminences of embryonic day 14-mouse brain.
A technique is described to quantify the in vivo physiological response of mammalian neurons during movement and correlate the physiology of the neuron with neuronal morphology, neurochemical phenotype and synaptic microcircuitry.
1Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Center for Stem Cell Biology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 2Department of Pharmacology, Center for Stem Cell Biology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 3Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Isolation of embryonic neural crest from the neural tube facilitates the use of in vitro methods for studying migration, self-renewal, and multipotency of neural crest.