Novel scalable 3D cell based model for in vitro neurotoxicity testing: Combining human differentiated neurospheres with gene expression and functional endpoints

Ana Paula Terrasso, Catarina Pinto, Margarida Serra, Augusto Filipe, Susana Almeida, Ana Lúcia Ferreira, Pedro Pedroso, Ana Catarina Montes, Paula Marques Alves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

There is an urgent need for new in vitro strategies to identify neurotoxic agents with speed, reliability and respect for animal welfare. Cell models should include distinct brain cell types and represent brain microenvironment to attain higher relevance. The main goal of this study was to develop and validate a human 3D neural model containing both neurons and glial cells, applicable for toxicity testing in high-throughput platforms. To achieve this, a scalable bioprocess for neural differentiation of human NTera2/cl.D1 cells in stirred culture systems was developed. Endpoints based on neuronal- and astrocytic-specific gene expression and functionality in 3D were implemented in multi-well format and used for toxicity assessment. The prototypical neurotoxicant acrylamide affected primarily neurons, impairing synaptic function; our results suggest that gene expression of the presynaptic marker synaptophysin can be used as sensitive endpoint. Chloramphenicol, described as neurotoxicant affected both cell types, with cytoskeleton markers' expression significantly reduced, particularly in astrocytes. In conclusion, a scalable and reproducible process for production of differentiated neurospheres enriched in mature neurons and functional astrocytes was obtained. This 3D approach allowed efficient production of large numbers of human differentiated neurospheres, which in combination with gene expression and functional endpoints are a powerful cell model to evaluate human neuronal and astrocytic toxicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-92
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biotechnology
Volume205
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015

Keywords

  • 3D culture
  • Astrocyte
  • Human neurotoxicity
  • Neural differentiation
  • Neurospheres

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