Nav: Home

Brain tissue kept alive for weeks on an artificial membrane

October 09, 2019

Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research in Japan have developed a new system for keeping tissue viable for long-term study once transferred from an animal to a culture medium. The new system uses a microfluidic device that can keep tissue from both drying out and from drowning in fluid. A proof-of-concept experiment showed that tissue explanted from the mouse brain remained viable after almost one month in culture, much longer than is possible with other microfluidic culturing methods, and also much simpler.

Experimenting on tissues in culture can facilitate drug discovery because researchers can systematically manipulate the tissue and test different drugs or drug combinations. However, when studying a whole system in which many cells must interact with each other, it has proven difficult to keep the tissue "alive" for more than a few days. Tissue dries out quickly and dies unless it is put into a wet culture medium with appropriate nutrients. On the other hand, immersing complex tissue in fluid can damage the tissue because it does not allow the normal transfer of gases between them.

To solve this problem, the RIKEN scientists developed a microfluidic device using polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), the material often used as a defoamer in over-the-counter drugs. The device has a semi-permeable channel surrounded by an artificial membrane and solid PDMS walls. Rather than constantly being immersed in fluid, the tissue benefited from having the culture medium circulate within the microchannel and pass through the permeable membrane, which allowed proper gas exchange. This sounds simple, but finding the optimal settings proved challenging. As first author Nobutoshi Ota notes, "Controlling the medium flow was difficult because the microchannel that formed between the PDMS walls and the porous membrane was unusual. However, we had success after trial and error modifications to the porous membrane and adjustments of the inlet/outlet flow rates."

The team tested the device using tissue from the mouse suprachiasmatic nucleus, a complex part of the brain that governs circadian rhythms. The mice themselves were knock-in mice in which circadian rhythm activity in the brain was linked to the production of a highly fluorescent protein. By measuring the level of bioluminescence coming from the brain tissue, they were able to see that tissue kept alive by their system stayed active and functional for over 25 days with nice circadian activity. In contrast, neural activity in tissue kept in a conventional culture decreased by 6% after only 10 hours.

This new method will have several benefits. In the short-term, it will be useful in observing biological development and testing how tissues respond to drugs. The long-term benefits are also clear. "This method can be used for more than explanted tissues from animals," says Ota. "It will also improve research into organogenesis through long-term culturing and observation which is necessary for growing tissue and organs."

Indeed, the team is currently planning long-term experiments using their system to observe the formation of blood vessels and the movements of cells during organoid formation.

This study was published in the journal Analytical Sciences.
-end-
Reference:

Ota et al. (2019) A Microfluidic Platform Based on Robust Gas and Liquid Exchange for Long-Term Culturing of Explanted Tissues. Anal Sci. doi: 10.2116/analsci.19P099.

RIKEN

Related Brain Articles:

Scientists predict the areas of the brain to stimulate transitions between different brain states
Using a computer model of the brain, Gustavo Deco, director of the Center for Brain and Cognition, and Josephine Cruzat, a member of his team, together with a group of international collaborators, have developed an innovative method published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Sept.
BRAIN Initiative tool may transform how scientists study brain structure and function
Researchers have developed a high-tech support system that can keep a large mammalian brain from rapidly decomposing in the hours after death, enabling study of certain molecular and cellular functions.
Wiring diagram of the brain provides a clearer picture of brain scan data
In a study published today in the journal BRAIN, neuroscientists led by Michael D.
Blue Brain Project releases first-ever digital 3D brain cell atlas
The Blue Brain Cell Atlas is like ''going from hand-drawn maps to Google Earth'' -- providing previously unavailable information on major cell types, numbers and positions in all 737 brain regions.
Landmark study reveals no benefit to costly and risky brain cooling after brain injury
A landmark study, led by Monash University researchers, has definitively found that the practice of cooling the body and brain in patients who have recently received a severe traumatic brain injury, has no impact on the patient's long-term outcome.
Brain cells called astrocytes have unexpected role in brain 'plasticity'
Researchers from the Salk Institute have shown that astrocytes -- long-overlooked supportive cells in the brain -- help to enable the brain's plasticity, a new role for astrocytes that was not previously known.
Largest brain study of 62,454 scans identifies drivers of brain aging
In the largest known brain imaging study, scientists from Amen Clinics (Costa Mesa, CA), Google, John's Hopkins University, University of California, Los Angeles and the University of California, San Francisco evaluated 62,454 brain SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) scans of more than 30,000 individuals from 9 months old to 105 years of age to investigate factors that accelerate brain aging.
Is whole-brain radiation still best for brain metastases from small-cell lung cancer?
University of Colorado Cancer Center study compares outcomes of 5,752 small-cell lung cancer patients who received whole-brain radiation therapy (WBRT) with those of 200 patients who received stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), finding that the median overall survival was actually longer with SRS (10.8 months with SRS versus 7.1 months with WBRT).
Atlas of brain blood vessels provides fresh clues to brain diseases
Even though diseases of the brain vasculature are some of the most common causes of death in the West, knowledge of these blood vessels is limited.
Brain sciences researcher pinpoints brain circuit that triggers fear relapse
Steve Maren, the Claude H. Everett Jr. '47 Chair of Liberal Arts professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Texas A&M University, and his Emotion and Memory Systems Laboratory (EMSL) have made a breakthrough discovery in the process of fear relapse.
More Brain News and Brain Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.